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Infectious disease


Tryptophan synthesis

In vitro and mouse studies suggest inhibiting bacterial tryptophan synthesis could help treat tuberculosis. A screen in mice for bacterial genes required for Mycobacterium tuberculosis survival showed that tryptophan biosynthesis was necessary to counteract tryptophan starvation induced by CD4+ T cells. In cocultures of M. tuberculosis and macrophages, a small molecule inhibitor of tryptophan biosynthesis decreased bacterial growth compared with no treatment. This effect was counteracted by addition of exogenous tryptophan. In M. tuberculosis-infected mice, the inhibitor also decreased bacterial burden in the lungs and spleens. Next steps could include testing the approach in additional tuberculosis models.

SciBX 7(2); doi:10.1038/scibx.2014.61
Published online Jan. 16, 2014

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Zhang, Y.J. et al. Cell; published online Dec. 5, 2013;
Contact: Eric J. Rubin, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.