ND Researchers Examine TB Protein

Brandi Klingerman | April 12, 2017

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Each year the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes World Health Day with the goal of spreading awareness for global health issues. The WHO names Tuberculosis (TB) as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and over 95 percent of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. To improve the global health community’s understanding of TB and provide information that could help treat it, Notre Dame researchers have developed a new strain of the bacteria along with a new method to better study this deadly disease. 

TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which grows within a body’s cells. To explain more about how the bacteria causes TB, Matthew Champion, Research Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility in McCourtney Hall, said, "Mycobacteria, like all organisms, secrete proteins and these proteins are used for all life processes. Specific proteins secreted by the Mycobacteria enable it to cause disease, and EsxA – the one we studied – is one of these key proteins."

Despite the fact that the EsxA protein is crucial for the disease, the tools available to study it are limited. To overcome this obstacle, Matthew Champion and Patricia A. Champion, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, together with their research team, have improved the analysis of the EsxA protein. 

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, improved upon common mass spectrometry methods – analytical techniques that measure the mass of proteins. In doing so, the Notre Dame researchers developed a method that advanced proteomic analyses of the natural protein while retaining EsxA protein function. Before this development, the proteins were unsuitable when current analytical methods were applied, in turn holding back TB research. Therefore, this outcome helps scientists study the EsxA protein’s functions more fully. 

Read more here.

 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: Features