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How Super Bugs Build Wall Against Immune System is Finally Decoded


Scientists, using a hand-made super-microscope, have deciphered how antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are able to build a wall against the immune system, leading to untreatable, deadly disease.

One of the keys to understanding antimicrobial-resistant "superbugs" is to see in great detail the outer surface that they present to the human immune system.

Researchers from Monash University in Australia accomplished the first nanoscale interrogation of the wall of the bacteria Escherichia coli, discovering highly-organized precincts of "beta-barrel assembly machines," that build the bacterial cell surface.

The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, "a big step in knowing how these bacteria form a wall against the immune system - and also a big step towards stopping the superbugs in their tracks," said Trevor Lithgow, a professor at Monash University.

Super-resolution microscopy, which won its developers the Nobel Prize in 2014, is a technique that can "see" beyond the diffraction of light, providing unprecedented views of cells and their interior structures and organelles.

Even the most accurate light microscopes are unable to see the surface features of a live superbug, so researchers created and optimized a super-resolution microscope, called STORM, that could see single molecules in a bacterium.
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