Professor Greg Challis from the University of Warwick and involved colleagues from the University of Warwick and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, have published a new study that may prevent Fire Blight and benefit blood transfusions.
The University of Warwick has announced that research, that was conducted by Professor Greg Challis from the University of Warwick and involved colleagues from the University of Warwick and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, into the genomes of two bacteria has produced results that could save orchards, and assist in treating complications that arise from human blood transfusions.
The study was published online last Saturday in Nature Chemical biology.
The research team investigated how the bacteria naturally produced a family of chemicals called desferrioxamines. Desferrioxamine E is produced by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. The bacterium acquires iron from apple and pear trees by employing Desferrioxamine E.
An infection is a result of this activity and the infection leads to an agricultural disease that is known as Fire Blight. Fire Blight runs rampant through an orchard unless the damaged trees are removed. This lost has serious economic implications for growers and consumers.
The other bacteria, that the team studied, is Streptomyces coelicolor which produces Desferrioxamine B, This is used to treat iron overload in humans – for instance following extensive blood transfusions.
The team was able through this study to understand that each bacterium uses a similar biochemical pathway to produce desferrioxamines. According to the researchers, in both cases they use a “remarkable”
trimerisation-macrocyclisation reaction cascade in the key step. The team purified the enzyme responsible and showed that it could catalyze the reaction cascade in a test tube.
A fermentation process is the current method that is used to create desferrioxamine B. The researchers established that the Streptomyces bacteria create it using only four enzyme catalysts and four different building blocks.
Desferrioxamine B, requires 10 steps and uses numerous chemicals in the laboratory process. Cheaper pharmaceuticals based on desferrioxamine B may be one result of this study. In addition, manipulating them could lead to the creation of new orally-active analogues of this important pharmaceutical.
The findings of this study open the way for the creation of new chemical inhibitors that may prevent Fire Blight from infecting orchards.