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3D images reveal the body’s guardian against urinary infection

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have obtained the first 3D structure of uromodulin, the building block of the unique safety net that constantly protects our urinary tract against bacterial infections. Uromodulin also plays a part in certain chronic diseases of the kidney. By analysing the structure of uromodulin, the researchers write in the journal PNAS that they can better understand the mutations that cause these kidney diseases.

Every year, some 150 million people develop an infection of the urinary tract, which makes it one of the world’s most common non-infectious bacterial conditions. Women are most vulnerable, with one in every two developing a urinary infection at some time in life. It is not at all as common in men, but for those who do develop an infection, it can prove very serious.

The crystal structure of uromodulin
The crystal structure of uromodulin (in color), overlayed on an electron micrograph of uromodulin filaments (grey background)
Image Credit: Marcel Bokhove