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Volume 580 Issue 7805, 30 April 2020

Molecular syringe

The cover shows an artist’s impression of an R-type bacteriocin protein complex from the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bacteriocins are contractile molecular syringes — nanomachines produced by one bacterium that can puncture the cell membrane of another bacterium to deliver a lethal punch. In this week’s issue, Hong Zhou and his colleagues present high-resolution structures of the bacteriocin pyocin R2 from P. aeruginosa in both its pre- and post-contraction states. The results allow the researchers to suggest in detail how the molecular syringe works, offering insight into how R-type bacteriocins might be developed into a new class of antimicrobials.

Cover image: Dan Weisman

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