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Some cytosolic bacteria deform the plasma membrane to spread from cell to cell. Secretion of 25-hydroxy-cholesterol by macrophages has emerged as a protective response that depletes the cholesterol pool used by these bacteria to disseminate through epithelia.
Multi-omics reveals how metabolites produced by pioneer bacterial species might alter the neonatal gut environment to an anaerobic state much earlier than was previously thought during the first hours of life.
N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a widespread modification on cellular RNA that is dynamically regulated involving m6A writers, erasers and readers, and can impact many cellular processes and pathways. A recent study demonstrates that viruses can use m6A to ensure their RNA avoids innate immune sensing.
Two studies now identify bradyzoite-formation deficient 1 and microrchidia as ‘master regulators’ of the transcriptional events that control developmental life cycle transitions in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
Resistance to antibiotics is a hot topic in microbiology, but there is much less coverage on resistance to vaccines. The associated risk to disease control has potentially devastating implications, but advances are being made towards smarter vaccine design that reduces the risk of antibiotic-resistant disease.
Bacteriophage therapeutics has emerged as one of the few potential beacons that represent possible solutions to the growing global crisis of antimicrobial resistance. Bringing science to the bedside (and vice versa) will maximize the potential of this compelling opportunity.
Mosquitoes have been known for over a century to transmit viruses such as yellow fever. However, laboratory studies to identify the species capable of natural transmission still fail to explain some outbreaks, such as Zika. Now, this paradox is partially explained by a simple methodological shortcoming.
Antibiotic overuse has led to a rise of multidrug-resistant pathogens and increased morbidity. A new study shows that the microbiome can prime two different host response pathways in the intestine and lungs that protect against an antibiotic-resistant pathogen.
Two recent studies reveal a virus anti-defence strategy whereby large, ‘jumbo’ phages protect themselves from both restriction endonucleases and DNA-targeting CRISPR–Cas systems, but not from RNA-targeting ones, by encapsulating the phage genome inside the cell in a ‘nucleus’-like shell that is impenetrable for CRISPR effectors.
Metabolic adaptation plays a key role in determining the composition of microbial ecosystems. A new study shows that in the inflamed gut, pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae can reprogramme their metabolism towards diet-derived l-serine utilization to outcompete the resident microbiota and cause disease.
Baloxavir marboxil (BXM) represents a promising advance in antiviral chemotherapies for influenza infections. Identification of transmissible BXM-resistant strains in Japan may hit pause on widespread adoption of this therapy and could lead to revision of surveillance practices for emerging viruses.
Adding a flap on the top of an insecticide-treated bednet helps to intercept blood-seeking mosquitoes and allows a wider range of insecticides to be used together. Net buyers must now make a challenging decision for each target area: which net product will be most cost-effective, given the resistance in local vectors?
The host protein cyclophilin A binds to the HIV-1 capsid and its role in infection has long been enigmatic. A new study shows that this interaction protects the virus from inhibition by TRIM5α in physiologically relevant primary human cells.
A newly discovered energy-linked carbonic anhydrase, DabBA2, is a two-protein complex responsible for inorganic carbon accumulation in the sulfur bacterium Halothiobacillus neapolitanus. DABs are present in a wide range of proteobacterial clades, suggesting that they function in diverse metabolic pathways.
Influenza vaccine strain selection is informed by international efforts to track antigenic change, focusing on the viral hemagglutinin protein. Recent research advocates monitoring neuraminidase for immune escape mutations that could reduce vaccine efficacy.
Culture-independent methods capable of connecting bacteriophages (phages) to their target host bacteria will help define the roles of phages in host-associated microbiotas. A recent study used fluorescently dyed intestinal phages to identify novel phage–bacterial interactions from the human intestine.
12,13-diHOME produced by the gut microbiome promotes an asthma-like immunophenotype in the lungs of a murine experimental model. Accordingly, the metabolite is elevated in neonates who developed asthma during childhood, potentially providing a biomarker for early risk prediction and a novel therapeutic target.
Some RNAs have to be made at maximal achievable rates, yet RNA polymerase encounters many obstacles that slow it down. A new study shows that a group of co-transcribing RNA polymerases communicate over long distances to work more efficiently than a solo enzyme.
Clinicians have long observed that infections diagnosed as susceptible to antibiotics can sometimes resist treatment. New studies show that such treatment failures can be explained by subpopulations of transiently resistant cells that are often missed by standard clinical diagnostics, offering new therapeutic avenues.
Lab-based studies, combined with metatranscriptomic and metabolomic field analyses, reveal important diel-linked roles for sulfonates in the major classes of phytoplankton that produce them, and in the environment in which they feed ubiquitous heterotrophic bacteria.
The Mla phospholipid transporter is a multi-subunit ATP-binding cassette transport system widely understood to move phospholipids in a retrograde direction; that is, from the outer membrane to the inner membrane. However, recent studies reveal that Mla might move phospholipids in the opposite, anterograde direction.
Since the emergence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 60 years ago, scientists have been trying to engineer β-lactam antibiotics to restore drug susceptibility. Genomic data now shows that clavulanic acid (a β-lactamase inhibitor) can restore susceptibility in many strains, but only if they carry key mutations.
Duffy-binding protein (DBP) is the leading vaccine candidate for Plasmodium vivax malaria. Two studies express and characterise the first human monoclonal antibodies against DBP, induced by natural infection and vaccination, showing they have in vitro functional activity but target different conserved epitopes.
Metagenomic screening of gut microbiomes led to the discovery of a new enzymatic process for the removal of group A antigens on red blood cells, providing new hope for the development of universal blood.
The vast majority of fungi reproduce sexually and use secreted pheromones to signal to each other. A study now shows that these signalling molecules in the fungal plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum activate a density-dependent autocrine signal that controls asexual spore germination.
Host cells assemble linear ubiquitin chains to activate immune signalling during bacterial infection. A new study reveals that Legionella pneumophila — the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease — produces an enzyme that specifically disassembles these linear ubiquitin modifications to restrict immune responses.
The finding that the two cell wall elongation systems of Bacillus subtilis have opposite effects on cell diameter and on the amount of oriented material along the sidewalls elucidates the long-standing question of how cell width is controlled in rod-shaped bacteria.
There is increasing evidence of direct and/or indirect interactions between bacteria and viruses. Two new studies shed light on the mechanisms underlying these interactions with implications not only for our understanding of microbial pathogenesis, but also for vaccine design.
Complementary genomic frameworks for taxonomic classification of viruses infecting bacteria and archaea reveal evolutionary drivers, mosaicism and perspective on the genetic diversity of the tiniest, most abundant biological entities on Earth.
Eukaryotes evolved from a symbiosis involving Alphaproteobacteria and archaea phylogenetically nested within the Asgard clade. Two recent studies explore the metabolic capabilities of Asgard lineages, supporting refined symbiotic metabolic interactions that might have operated at the dawn of eukaryogenesis.
Biofilms are communities of bacteria that accumulate on surfaces such as replacement joints or intravenous catheters. By silencing a key communication system, Staphylococcus aureus builds tightly packed biofilms that can withstand attack by host immune cells.
Microscopy and genomic analyses reveal an intriguing symbiosis between eukaryotic protists and Deltaproteobacteria in anoxic marine sediments that involves division of labour and interspecies hydrogen transfer, and enables collective magnetotactic motility by the consortium.
The rapidly dividing bacterium Vibrio natriegens holds promise for transforming traditional molecular biology and biotechnology processes. New work demonstrates that CRISPR interference technology is a robust tool for rapid, genome-wide screens in V. natriegens, facilitating future bioengineering efforts.
A class of drugs approved to treat schizophrenia can cause rapid loss of the pilus, an essential virulence factor necessary for the disease-causing properties in the strict human pathogen Neisseria meningitidis.
Differences in microbial genomes can result in vastly different phenotypes and functions. Consequently, it is critical to understand the genome variations that differentiate microbial strains. Here, we discuss recent exciting advances that enable structural variant measurement, their associated phenotypes and the horizon for future discovery.
The secondary metabolite cepacin A is the essential compound made by Burkholderia ambifaria needed for biocontrol of plant pathogens. In this organism, genes responsible for virulence and for cepacin A biosynthesis reside on different replicons, allowing for the engineering of avirulent mutants that retain their biocontrol properties.
Inflammatory molecules evolved partly to protect hosts from viruses, but increasing evidence suggests that they cause disease pathology and chronic conditions, and play a role in aging. By mitigating these effects, bats are able to both tolerate viral infections and live well beyond expectations.
A large-scale comparative genomic survey of Cryptosporidium species and subtypes reveals a cryptic anthroponotic Cryptosporidium parvum branch and a large, recent superclade of species and subtypes that undergo genetic exchange, potentially facilitating host associations.
Megaphages, the largest phage genomes sequenced to date, are abundant in faecal microbiomes from humans, baboons and pigs, leading us to question whether there is an upper limit to the size of viruses relative to their hosts.
Three recent metagenomic studies analyse methanogenesis-related genes in previously uncharacterized, sediment-inhabiting archaeal lineages. They elucidate the metabolic capacity encoded in the genomes of these lineages, yet how these organisms harness energy is still a mystery.
Rapid diagnostic tests capable of detecting any potential pathogen are needed to improve the efficacy of antimicrobial therapy and inform antimicrobial stewardship efforts. A new metagenomics-based test that detects microbial DNA in human blood can identify a diverse array of pathogens from any source in the body.
Animal studies have strongly implicated the gut microbiome as a key regulator of brain and behaviour. Recent work using two large population cohorts and bioinformatics tools has strengthened the link between microbial disturbances and depression (or quality of life in general).
Eradicating the viral reservoir remains a formidable barrier to curing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The first challenge is to characterize the cells and tissues where HIV hides. In this issue of Nature Microbiology, urethral macrophages are shown to retain infectious HIV particles, prompting us to rethink strategies to eliminate the reservoir.