Historically, most research on newly identified antibiotics has focused on how they work on their direct targets, but new, high-powered technologies have made it possible to examine their effects system-wide. In a study published this week by Cell Reports, a team led by senior author Jim Collins (of the Broad Institute, MIT, and Harvard University's Wyss Institute) and first author Peter Belenky (of Brown University) observed the metabolome of Escherichia coli (E. coli) following the introduction of three different classes of antibiotics. Most strikingly, they found that, over time, the antibiotics perturbed the TCA cycle, a metabolic process that, if overactive, causes oxidative stress, ultimately resulting in molecular damage and cell death.
The findings shed light on some of the downstream effects of antibiotics, and suggest that targeting microbial metabolism may be an effective strategy for potential antibiotic therapies. For more on the story, visit the Brown University website.