Klebsiella pneumoniae is a common cause of disease in hospital, as it tends to infect people with a weakened immune system, and this is made all the more serious by the high rates at which it develops multi-drug resistance. These diagrams were commissioned by Thamerai Schneiders, who works on regulators of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, such as RamA in K. pneumoniae.
Tammie has discovered that RamA not only enhances antibiotic resistance, but that it can also make K. pneumoniae more resilient against host attack. One way in which it does this is by affecting the structure of the fats in the K. pneumoniae outer membrane (LPS), causing it to be less susceptible to host innate immune factors and less visible to white blood cells such as macrophages, which patrol the body looking for bacteria to eat. This has wide reaching implications – we are not just selecting antibiotic resistant bacteria by improper use of antibiotics, we are making them more deadly too. Her research can be viewed here.