Behind the paper

Share the real story behind your paper, from conception to publication, the highs and the lows.

The type VI secretion system under tension

The development of new approaches is often challenging, but is also critical to gain further insights that cannot be accessed by existing methods or technologies. In this study, we borrowed a technique initially developed by the group of Alice Ting for studies in eukaryotic cells and mitochondria. This technique is based on the covalent biotinylation of proteins at the proximity of an engineered variant of the soybean ascorbate peroxidase, called APEX2. Biotinylated proteins can be then enriched and identified by mass spectrometry. We adapted this technique in Escherichia coli cells in order to identify partners of the highly dynamic TssA protein that is involved in the different stages of the assembly of the Type VI secretion system (T6SS). The T6SS is a fascinating machine widespread in Gram-negative bacteria. It assembles a spring-like structure that can be compared to a crossbow or speargun, and used to inject effectors into target cells upon contraction. The APEX2 approach did not only allow to provide further insights on the assembly pathway of this multiprotein apparatus but also revealed a new player in T6SS that acts as a latch for the nano-crossbow.
Go to the profile of Yoann Santin
Oct 01, 2018

Approaching HIV prevention with young women’s preferences in mind

To many scientists, it may seem that HIV prevention research has succeeded – large clinical trials of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and vaginal formulations of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) demonstrated that these products can indeed prevent HIV infection when used [1-3]. This is great news! But the problem we face as a global HIV prevention community is not whether or not we have efficacious products. The problem is whether or not the products will appropriately meet women’s needs and lifestyles and thus whether or not women will use them. Adherence to product use is quite possibly the biggest issue blocking the eradication of sexual HIV transmission [4].
Go to the profile of Nina Derby
Sep 24, 2018

Maternal gut and breast milk microbiota affect infant gut antibiotic resistome and mobile genetic elements

Infants are affected by the antibiotic resistance crisis and carry more resistant bacteria in their gut than adults, irrespective of whether they have been treated with antibiotics or not. It has been unclear where these bacteria come from and if the maternal gut microbiota and breast milk contribute to the assembly of the gut resistome in early life.
Go to the profile of Katariina Parnanen
Sep 24, 2018

Intestinal inflammation Salmonella style

It has been long known that intestinal inflammation is central for the pathology that follows infection with non-typhoidal Salmonellae such as Salmonella Typhimurium. However, in recent years work carried out in the laboratories of Wolf-Dietrich Hardt and Andreas Baumler have established that the inflammatory response is also required for Salmonella Typhimurium to compete with the resident intestinal microbiota and to secure essential nutrients. Unlike most other tissues, where the mere presence of bacterial products capable of stimulating innate immune receptors can trigger inflammation, the intestinal tract presents a challenge to those pathogens that need inflammation to sustain their livelihood. Indeed, the presence in the intestinal tract of an abundance of microbial products with the potential to stimulate innate immune receptors demands for the intestinal epithelium to be subject to negative regulatory mechanisms that can prevent the pathology that could result from the indiscriminate firing of these receptors. In fact, misregulation of those mechanisms can result in chronic inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. Consequently, to initiate an inflammatory response in the gut, S. Typhimurium cannot relay on the stimulation of innate immune receptors by the standard “pathogen-associated molecular patterns” (e. g LPS, peptidoglycan, flagellin) that, like many other bacteria, posses in abundance. Therefore, the mechanisms by which Salmonella trigger intestinal inflammation have been a long-standing question in the field and have been the subject of some controversy. We believe that a paper that we recently published in Nature Microbiology has finally clarified this important issue.
Go to the profile of Jorge Galan
Sep 17, 2018