Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

15 Battling tuberculosis

Carl Nathan, Weill Cornell Medical College, Microbiology and Immunology, and research colleagues discovered one way in which the tubercle bacillus, which causes tuberculosis (TB), persists over the course of a person's lifetime once infected, outsmarting the body's immune system. The researchers found that Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) defends itself against the oxidative stress produced by the immune system by using a "bucket brigade" of proteins, including two proteins that are widely known to have functions in essential metabolism. It is the first known case of metabolic enzymes that also support antioxidant defenses. The discovery of the new function of three proteins, together with a fourth protein, acting to disarm the peroxide and peroxynitrite produced by the immune system's macrophage cells is a breakthrough. (The proteins are dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase, Lpd; dihydrolipoamide succinyltransferase, SucB; alkyl hydroperoxide reductase, AhpC; and AhpD, so named because its gene is next to and just downstream of AhpC.) The research has implications for drug targets for Mtb. Tuberculosis is one of the world's leading causes of death by an infectious disease, affecting nearly 2 billion people worldwide, with 16,000 active cases reported in the U.S. in 2001.

> Back  /  > Next Article  /  > Back to Listing

© 2003 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.

Cornell University  
314 Day Hall
Ithaca, New York

P: 607.255.7200
F: 607.255.9030
E: VP Research
C: Credits