In collaboration with the group of Prof. F. Barras (CNRS, Université d’Aix-Marseille), the team of Prof. J.F. Collet, WELBIO investigator, discovered a new system (named MsrPQ) allowing bacteria to fight bleach. The scientists from both teams worked in close collaboration. Their results are published today in the prestigious journal Nature.

Gram negative bacteria are protected by a cellular envelope. Envelope components, including proteins, can be damaged by oxidizing molecules such as bleach. Upon oxidation, proteins can become destabilized and inactivated. The newly discovered system repairs bleach-damaged envelope proteins using electrons derived from the respiratory chain. In particular, the MsrPQ system reduces oxidized methionine residues, converting them back to methionine. The system is conserved in a large number of bacteria and constitutes an attractive target for the development of new antibiotics.



Article reference:

The article, entitled "Repairing oxidized proteins in the bacterial envelope using respiratory chain electronsby Gennaris et al., was published in Nature on the 7th of December 2015.

Supported by ERC grant and fundings from FNRS and FRIA.

Press releases:



de Duve Institute:

Website of Prof. J.-F. Collet: Bacterial Stress Response

Prof. Jean-François Collet -


Aix-Marseille Université - CNRS:

Website of Prof. F. Barras: Laboratoire de chimie bactérienne

Prof. Frédéric Barras -



From left to right: Joanna Szewczyk, Alexandra Gennaris, Jean-François Collet, Pauline Leverrier