lab snippets

Meningococcus recognizes a specific sugar to colonize human cells

By 10 février 2020 juillet 6th, 2020 No Comments

Hello LABNAUT readers,

This week we learn that meningococcus recognizes a specific sugar to colonize human cells, that nanoscale magnetic vortex generates chaos and that Solar Orbiter has blasted off.

Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), a bacterium responsible for meningitis and severe forms of septicaemia (purpura fulminans), adheres to human cells via its type IV pili by specifically recognizing a complex sugar carried on the human CD147 receptor. This new result from researchers at the Institut Cochin (Inserm/CNRS), the Institut Necker Enfants Malades, Paris, and the Unité de Glycobiologie Structurale et Fonctionnelle at the Université Lille unravels the molecular basis of receptor recognition by meningococcal Tfp. It thus “outlines a strategy to identify carbohydrate motifs that are targeted by Tfp and therefore, constitute attractive therapeutic targets,” write the researchers in their paper published in PNAS.


Adhesion of Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) to human endothelial cells. Courtesy: Institut Cochin

Magnetic vortices occur in nanometre-thick materials. Boundary effects at the edges and surfaces of the disk cause the magnetic field to “curl” around in a whirlpool-like structure, before popping out of the disk at the centre of the vortex. Vortices exist in one of two curl states – clockwise and anti-clockwise. Under certain conditions, this sense of gyration can flip repeatedly, resulting in complex behavioural patterns. Now, physicists at the C2N have shown that chaos underpins such nanoscale motion and that this translates into arbitrarily complex electrical signals that could be used for generating random numbers or securing communications channels. They have published their latest work in Nature Communications.


Finally, you may have heard already that the Solar Orbiter spacecraft has been launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). The new mission will take the most detailed view yet of the Sun and its polar regions and will approach the Sun as distances never before achieved – as close as 42 million kilometres to the Sun (which is about a quarter of the distance between the Sun and Earth) to capture hitherto unexplored regions and probe its electromagnetic environment. The mission took off today on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida and is expected to reach operational orbit in just under two years with the mission scheduled to last seven years. France contributed, via the CNES, CNRS and CEA, to the realization of six of the ten instruments equipping the payload.


ESA/ATG medialab