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Invasive "crazy ants" are rapidly displacing fire ants in areas across the southeastern U.S. by secreting a compound that neutralizes fire ant venom, according to a University of Texas at Austin study published this week in the journal Science Express. It's the first known example of an insect with the ability to detoxify another insect's venom.


Some smaller molecules (such as the Lactone in the middle) are able to destruct the arrangement of the amino acids required for the cohesion of the subunits of the bacterial protease ClpP. As a result the protease breaks into two parts, which are completely inactive. This approach massively disturbs the metabolism of the bacterium, giving the immune system time to react. And, because the bacterium isn't killed, the development of new resistances can be avoided.
Proteins are made up of a chain of amino acids and are vital for all cell processes. Proteases are among the most important types of protein. Like "molecular scissors", they cut other proteins at given positions and thereby execute important cell functions. By cutting the amino acid chains to the right length or breaking proteins apart they, for example, activate or deactivate proteins, decompose defective ones or switch signal sequences that serve to transport proteins to their proper position within a cell.