1. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  2. Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics
Download icon

Structural basis of malodour precursor transport in the human axilla

  1. Gurdeep S Minhas
  2. Daniel Bawdon
  3. Reyme Herman
  4. Michelle Rudden
  5. Andrew P Stone
  6. A Gordon James
  7. Gavin H Thomas  Is a corresponding author
  8. Simon Newstead  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  2. University of York, United Kingdom
  3. Unilever Discover, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 15
  • Views 8,519
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e34995 doi: 10.7554/eLife.34995

Abstract

Mammals produce volatile odours that convey different types of societal information. In Homo sapiens, this is now recognised as body odour, a key chemical component of which is the sulphurous thioalcohol, 3-methyl-3-sulfanylhexan-1-ol (3M3SH). Volatile 3M3SH is produced in the underarm as a result of specific microbial activity, which act on the odourless dipeptide-containing malodour precursor molecule, S-Cys-Gly-3M3SH, secreted in the axilla (underarm) during colonisation. The mechanism by which these bacteria recognise S-Cys-Gly-3M3SH and produce body odour is still poorly understood. Here we report the structural and biochemical basis of bacterial transport of S-Cys-Gly-3M3SH by Staphylococcus hominis, which is converted to the sulphurous thioalcohol component 3M3SH in the bacterial cytoplasm, before being released into the environment. Knowledge of the molecular basis of precursor transport, essential for body odour formation, provides a novel opportunity to design specific inhibitors of malodour production in humans.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Gurdeep S Minhas

    Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  2. Daniel Bawdon

    Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Reyme Herman

    Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6620-3981
  4. Michelle Rudden

    Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  5. Andrew P Stone

    Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1087-9923
  6. A Gordon James

    Personal Care, Unilever Discover, Bedford, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    A Gordon James, is affiliated with Unilever Discover. The author has no financial interests to declare.
  7. Gavin H Thomas

    Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    gavin.thomas@york.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  8. Simon Newstead

    Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    simon.newstead@bioch.ox.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7432-2270

Funding

Wellcome (102890/Z/13/Z)

  • Simon Newstead

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/N006615/1)

  • Gavin H Thomas

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/L013703/1)

  • Gavin H Thomas
  • Simon Newstead

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/H016201/1)

  • Daniel Bawdon
  • A Gordon James
  • Gavin H Thomas

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Olga Boudker, Weill Cornell Medicine, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: January 11, 2018
  2. Accepted: June 23, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 3, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 25, 2018 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2018, Minhas et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

Metrics

  • 8,519
    Page views
  • 996
    Downloads
  • 15
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, Scopus, PubMed Central.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Further reading

    1. Ecology
    2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Lara Urban et al.
    Research Article

    While traditional microbiological freshwater tests focus on the detection of specific bacterial indicator species, including pathogens, direct tracing of all aquatic DNA through metagenomics poses a profound alternative. Yet, in situ metagenomic water surveys face substantial challenges in cost and logistics. Here, we present a simple, fast, cost-effective and remotely accessible freshwater diagnostics workflow centred around the portable nanopore sequencing technology. Using defined compositions and spatiotemporal microbiota from surface water of an example river in Cambridge (UK), we provide optimised experimental and bioinformatics guidelines, including a benchmark with twelve taxonomic classification tools for nanopore sequences. We find that nanopore metagenomics can depict the hydrological core microbiome and fine temporal gradients in line with complementary physicochemical measurements. In a public health context, these data feature relevant sewage signals and pathogen maps at species level resolution. We anticipate that this framework will gather momentum for new environmental monitoring initiatives using portable devices.

    1. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Philip P Adams et al.
    Research Article

    Many bacterial genes are regulated by RNA elements in their 5´ untranslated regions (UTRs). However, the full complement of these elements is not known even in the model bacterium Escherichia coli. Using complementary RNA-sequencing approaches, we detected large numbers of 3´ ends in 5´ UTRs and open reading frames (ORFs), suggesting extensive regulation by premature transcription termination. We documented regulation for multiple transcripts, including spermidine induction involving Rho and translation of an upstream ORF for an mRNA encoding a spermidine efflux pump. In addition to discovering novel sites of regulation, we detected short, stable RNA fragments derived from 5´ UTRs and sequences internal to ORFs. Characterization of three of these transcripts, including an RNA internal to an essential cell division gene, revealed that they have independent functions as sRNA sponges. Thus, these data uncover an abundance of cis- and trans-acting RNA regulators in bacterial 5´ UTRs and internal to ORFs.