Medical Professional Publications

Bakaletz Lab Biofilm Work Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

(From the August 2017 issue of Research Now)

A research study identifying novel bacteria physiology in the creation of biofilms by Nationwide Children’s Hospital scientists has been published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The laboratory of Lauren Bakaletz, PhD, director, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and vice president, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, studied the biofilm construction capabilities of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI), a bacteria responsible for pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis, bronchitis and ear infections. Biofilms are thin structures of bacteria that adhere to other bodily surfaces and protect bacteria from environmental stressors such as antibiotics. The lab found that when H. influenzae builds its biofilms, it preserves itself, unlike other bacteria which self-sacrifice in order to contribute to the biofilm. Other types of bacteria either explode, sending their DNA to the biofilm, or shuttle their DNA through a syringe-like appendage in the bacterium, all to benefit the potency of the biofilm.

The novel mechanism of H. influenzae releases DNA through an inner membrane pore complex that allows DNA to be ejected to the biofilm, a previously unidentified process. 

“We’re very excited that our work with biofilms has been accepted for publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” says Dr. Bakaletz. “Our lab hopes to use what we’ve learned about H. influenzae to identify vaccine targets as well as improve existing methods of preventative treatment.”

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