Small molecules that bind to segments of RNA called riboswitches could represent a novel class of antibiotics according to a report in the January issue of Nature Chemical Biology.
Small segments of RNA called riboswitches can control gene expression in response to the presence of bacterial metabolic products. The lysine riboswitch controls the biosynthesis of lysine, an essential amino acid for bacteria. Ronald Breaker and colleagues created small molecules that are chemically similar to lysine. They found that some of these lysine 'analogs' bind to the lysine riboswitch and as a result prevent lysine biosynthesis thereby stopping bacterial growth.
The authors suggest that rationally targeting riboswitches -- which are involved in sensing many critical bacterial metabolites -- could provide a new class of antibiotics.
Ronald R Breaker (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Chemical Biology press release.
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