Yu's bacteria work published in Nature

AMES, Iowa - A research team led by Edward Yu of Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory has identified and described two parts of the three-part system that pumps toxins from bacteria and allows them to resist antibiotics.

The discoveries are published in the Feb. 24 issue of the journal Nature.

ImageThe paper describes the co-crystal structure of two parts of the three-part efflux pump that recognizes and removes heavy metal toxins from bacteria. A research team led by Yu - an Iowa State associate professor of physics and astronomy, of chemistry, of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory - is working to discover the assembled structure of the entire three-part efflux pump.

Yu said a better understanding of how the three parts work together could help medical researchers find ways to restore the effectiveness of antibiotics.

"These pumps have to assemble together in order to pump out heavy metals and antibiotics," Yu said. "Researchers may be able to use these findings to design an inhibitor so the pump can't be assembled and can't work."

Yu and his research team described the first part of the pump - the inner membrane transporter known as CusA - in the Sept. 23, 2010, issue of the journal Nature.

Go to ISU News Release.