What is the function of the homing missile-like bacterium 'Teirosin' that kills only specific bacteria?

Vivek Mutalik, a microbiologist at

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , describes the bacterium 'Teirocin' (phage tail-like bacteriocin), which destroys only certain types of bacteria.

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“Teirosin is a powerful protein nanomachine made by bacteria,” says Mutalik. 'Teirosin

looks like a bacteriophage , but it lacks the capsid that is the' head 'part. Tyrosine has the ability to break through the target cell membrane and expel contents such as ions, 'continues Mutalik.



Tyrosine binds to the target receptor protein and kills the cell. It is said that a wide variety of bacteria can produce teirosin, but when the bacterium produces teirosin, the teirosin breaks through the cell membrane of the bacterium and the bacterium is killed. However, once released, tyrosin still targets only specific bacteria and does not attack other bacteria or cells. Due to this 'working only on specific types' properties, Teirosin is nicknamed 'Bacterial Homing Missile'.

When Mutalik et al. Investigated 'how teirosin discriminates cells', it is found that teirosin distinguishes between lipopolysaccharides attached to the outer membrane of bacteria.

Scientists are investigating whether this tyrosin can be used in place of traditional antibiotics. Unlike antibiotics, tyrosin does not kill bacteria that are beneficial to humans, so it is expected to be useful in the medical field. However, Mutalik says there are still unresolved issues, such as how bacteria produce tyrosin in the natural environment and why they choose targets.

in Science, Posted by log1p_kr