Scientists have developed a bacterial enzyme that suppresses the immune response.

Scientists have created the first detailed blueprints for a bacterial enzyme called Lit. The authors of the work believe that it plays a hidden role in the progression of infection by reducing the immune response.

Blueprints like these allow drug developers to spot potential weaknesses in drug chemistries, and create new drugs that can help tackle massive antibiotic resistance.

Lipoproteins perform a variety of functions in the bacterial cell. Some of them are essential for survival, and some play an important role by interacting with the innate immune response of the host.

A growing list of enzymes responsible for the formation of lipoproteins has been added to the recently discovered Lit (intramolecular lipoprotein transacylase): this enzyme creates a specific lipoprotein that slows down the immune response, increasing the likelihood that Lit allows bacteria to invisibly gain a foothold in the host’s body.

To understand how Lit functions at a molecular level, the team created a high-resolution crystal structure of an enzyme from Bacillus cereus, a common bacteria found in soil and food.

Scientists now have a detailed understanding of how the enzyme works.