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3-Hydroxykynurenine targets kainate receptors to promote defense against infection

Parada-Kusz M, Clatworthy AE, Goering ER, Blackwood SM, Shigeta JY, Mashin E, Salm EJ, Choi C, Combs S, Lee JSW, Rodriguez-Osorio C, Clish C, Tomita S, Hung DT
Nat Chem Biol. 2024 Jun 19. doi: 10.1038/s41589-024-01635-z. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38898166
Bacterial infection involves a complex interaction between the pathogen and host where the outcome of infection is not solely determined by pathogen eradication. To identify small molecules that promote host survival by altering the host–pathogen dynamic, we conducted an in vivo chemical screen using zebrafish embryos and found that treatment with 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK) protects from lethal bacterial infection. 3-HK, a metabolite produced through host tryptophan metabolism, has no direct antibacterial activity but enhances host survival by restricting bacterial expansion in macrophages through a systemic mechanism that targets kainate-sensitive glutamate receptors. These findings reveal a new pathway by which tryptophan metabolism and kainate-sensitive glutamate receptors function and interact to modulate immunity, with important implications for the coordination between the immune and nervous systems in pathological conditions.
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