Mycoplasma genitalium: scientists discover how it survives in the human body

A team of researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB-UAB) analyzed the techniques used by Mycoplasma genitalium, a pathogenic bacterium that also attacks the human body and is proving increasingly resistant to antibiotics, to spread.

In particular, researchers have analyzed the processes that this bacterium puts in place to grab the few quantities of metals that are present in our body and that are used by these same bacteria to survive and multiply.

In our bodies, in fact, the metals are quite scarce because they are bound to the proteins that preserve them and transport them inside the cells or tissues where they are then used. In order to acquire these scarce quantities of metal, which are real essential nutrients for them, bacteria put in place increasingly complicated and sophisticated mechanisms.

Mycoplasma genitalium (Mge), an emerging sexually transmitted pathogen, is proving to be increasingly good at doing this and is becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. And this is becoming more and more a serious problem as this pathogen can be responsible for several diseases of the genito-urinary tract.

Researchers have identified the protein this bacterium uses to regulate metal absorption, a protein that acts as a ferric absorption regulator. In addition, they identified several other important proteins that play a role in the transport of the same metals in the microorganism.

“Through transcriptomic and proteomic techniques, we have been able to determine changes in the gene expression of Mge in the presence and absence of metals,” says Carlos Martínez, the main author of the research. “In addition, we were able to identify the metals required by bacteria for growth using a mass spectrometry analysis developed by the analytical chemistry unit UAB,” says Sergi Torres, another of the authors of the study.