A novel cell-binding strategy by Streptococcus pneumoniae points to this pathogen's mechanism of attack, report researchers at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia (van Bueren AL et al. Nat Struct Mol Biol. doi:10.1038/nsmb1187 [published online December 24, 2006]).
By binding to glycogen expressed by lung cells, S pneumoniae invades cells, ultimately causing such conditions as pneumonia, meningitis, and otitis media.
Through x-ray crystallography, investigators discovered that tandem “glycogen-binding modules” expressed by S pneumoniae can form strong interactions with alveolar cells in mouse lung tissue. The structure formed through this multivalent binding between host and pathogen may provide insight into the molecular basis for the glycogen specificity of this bacterium. In addition, the findings
suggest that disrupting the interaction may be a way to treat streptococcal lung
Hampton T. Strep Virulence. JAMA. 2007;297(5):459. doi:10.1001/jama.297.5.459-b