Microbiology Editor’s Choice: a regulatory protein linked to Acinetobacter baumannii virulence

Posted on July 1, 2020   by Microbiology Society

Each month, a manuscript published in our flagship journal Microbiology  is chosen by a member of the Editorial Board. This month, the paper is titled ‘A response regulator protein with antar domain, AvnR, in Acinetobacter baumannii ATCC 17978 impacts its virulence and amino acid metabolism’ and was chosen by Professor David Grainger.

Acinetobacter baumannii is an opportunistic pathogen that cause infections frequently difficult to treat with antibiotics. In this paper, the authors investigate an A. baumannii gene regulatory protein called AvnR. It is shown that AnvR is important for controlling nitrogen metabolism in the bacterium and that loss of AnvR function impacts many A. baumannii phenotypes linked to virulence.


A response regulator protein with antar domain, AvnR, in Acinetobacter baumannii ATCC 17978 impacts its virulence and amino acid metabolism

Acinetobacter baumannii is classified as a ‘critical’ priority bacterial pathogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), and displays extremely high resistance to our existing arsenal of antibiotics.

Understanding molecular mechanisms that contribute to antibiotic resistance and virulence of A. baumannii are critical for devising effective therapeutic options. In this work, the novel master regulator protein AvnR was shown to impact the expression of more than 150 different genes, including those involved in amino acid metabolism as well as virulence. Thus, AvnR provides an understanding of how metabolic pathways are linked with the virulence of A. baumannii.

We spoke with corresponding author Ayush Kumar to find out more:

What is your institution and how long have you been there?

I am a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Manitoba, Canada. I have been here for the past seven years.

What is your research area? 

We study antibiotic resistance mechanisms in Gram-negative bacteria as well as the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in environmental and hospital settings

What inspired you to research this topic?

I consider antibiotics as one of the most important achievements of modern medicine. However, as resistance spreads, the tremendous progress we have made in the last century in the field of medicine is under unprecedented threat. Resistance to antibiotics will not only severely restrict our ability to treat infectious diseases, but also impact various other life-saving medical advances such as cancer treatment, organ transplants etc. We believe that all of us have a role to play in combatting antibiotic resistance and that serves as our inspiration.

What is the most rewarding part of your research?

I am fascinated by how bacteria function and how they respond to their environment. Finding something novel about bacterial cell function is very rewarding. The other extremely rewarding aspect of my research is that I get to work with some of the brightest young scientists, which makes research and my work a lot of fun.

What would you be doing if you weren't a scientist?

I would perhaps be a chef at night who would never follow a recipe! I would also spend my days watching test cricket.

Visit our journals platform to access the full paper. Editor’s Choice articles published in Microbiology are free to read.