Researchers were able to get bacteria to produce an antibiotic. To do this, they “scared” them with the help of a special hormone.
Scientists have developed a method for the production of antibiotics and antiparasitic compounds hiding in the genomes of actinobacteria. In the future, these substances may become the basis of drugs such as actinomycin and streptomycin. Scientists talked about the results of their research in the journal eLife.
Researchers wanted to solve a problem that they had been working on for ten years. Their task was to find a way to use a huge amount of antibiotics, antifungal and antiparasitic compounds that bacteria can produce.
“In laboratory conditions, bacteria do not produce as many molecules as are enough for further research,” the scientists noted. “Their production is controlled by small-molecule hormones that don’t start working unless the bacteria are at risk”.
The researchers wanted to determine how different hormones affect the production of antibiotics in actinobacteria. By exposing the bacteria to a hormone or a combination of hormones, the researchers wanted to push them to create new compounds that would be medically beneficial.
The team focused on avenolide, a hormone that is more chemically stable than the one used in earlier studies. It regulates the production of an antiparasitic compound known as avermectin in the soil microbe. A chemically modified version of this compound, ivermectin, is used to treat onchocerciasis or “river blindness.”
Researchers have found that when a hormone binds to actinobacteria, the receptor loses its ability to cling to DNA. This disables the ability to limit protective compounds – including antibiotics. This process allowed the team to identify 90 actinobacteria that can be regulated using alenolides.