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BacRafts Report Summary

Project ID: 335568
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Spain

Mid-Term Report Summary - BACRAFTS (Architecture of bacterial lipid rafts; inhibition of virulence and antibiotic resistance using raft-disassembling small molecules)

Membranes of eukaryotic cells organize signal transduction proteins into microdomains or lipid rafts whose integrity is important for the functionality of numerous cellular processes. Lipid rafts has been considered a hallmark in the evolution of cellular complexity strictly associated with eukaryotic cells, assuming that bacteria do not require such a sophisticated membrane organisation to coordinate cellular operations. However, we discovered that bacteria organise membrane microdomains similar to the eukaryotic lipid rafts and their perturbation leads to a potent and simultaneous impairment of many cellular processes. This project explores the structural and functional organisation of membrane microdomains in the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus and the possibility to use them as targets for the development of new antimicrobial drugs. We have addressed the structural composition of S. aureus lipid rafts and we are exploring the molecular components and the mechanism of assembly of bacterial lipid rafts. We are dissecting the biological significance that links the functionality of the infection-related processes to the integrity of bacterial lipid rafts and we are developing a new class of small-molecules that are able to disrupt lipid rafts and can be used to prevent S. aureus hospital-acquired infections. Our research will clarify the architecture and functionality of lipid rafts and demonstrate the feasibility of targeting lipid rafts in bacteria as a new strategy for anti-microbial therapy.

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