Discovery of antimicrobials effective against multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens* 

The emergence and dissemination of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens necessitate research to find new antimicrobials against these organisms. We recently discovered that subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, produces antibacterial protein complexes that are effective against a wide-range of bacterial pathogens. More significantly, we discovered that we can induce activities against two multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), when the termites are fed with heat-killed P. aeruginosa and MRSA. Both the innate and the inducible antibacterial activities were localized to termite hemolymphs rather than the gut microbes. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed that the termite hemolymph contains approximately 490 proteins with 38 and 65 proteins differentially expressed at least 2.5-fold when the insects were fed with P. aeruginosa and MRSA, respectively. We recently did a MudPit (Multidimensional Protein Identification Technology) analysis of innate and induced hemolymphs and are currently analyzing the data to identify differentially expressed proteins with antibacterial activity. We are very excited about this microbe-host interaction study and believe we can 1) harvest and characterize potentially novel antibacterial proteins; and 2) expand our understanding of termite immune system which can suggest potential approaches to control this important pest.

*This is a collaborative study with Dr. Xing Ping Hu of Entomology

  Sang-Jin Suh © Auburn University 2012. All rights reserved