Our genetic code consists of four “letters” in the form of the nucleobases in our DNA and RNA. Three letters together form a “word” that are translated into an amino acid by tRNA and combined into proteins. Special markings subdivide the gene into active and inactive regions.
A third possible level of information has so far received less attention: the chemical modification of tRNA nucleobases. In the journal Angewandte Chemie Thomas Carell and a team at the University of Munich have now demonstrated that tRNA modification profiles can be used for the characterization of species and the differentiation of pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacterial strains.
There are over 100 different modifications that occur in RNA, the exact informational function of which remains unknown. Some are thought to improve the maintenance of reading frames; others may influence the stability of the RNA or participate in “proofreading”. It was recently discovered that the entire collective of modified tRNA nucleosides is a regulative component of the stress response.
In order to learn more about the function of modified nucleobases, the researchers investigated which modifications occur in what numbers in various species. They examined several gram-positive and gram-negative strains of bacteria, various fungi, and different cell components from pigs.
It turns out that the set of modified bases, as a whole, is largely species-specific. Related species have similar profiles, while unrelated ones are clearly different. Says Carell: “We were able to use this data to compute a detailed family tree of the various species that agreed with results from conventional methods. The entire sets of base modifications of a species clearly developed under the pressure of evolutionary selection.”
The researchers compared pairs of pathogenic and nonpathogenic, as well as antibiotic-resistant and non-resistant bacteria. “The bacteria we studied are among the most dangerous clinical pathogens and are responsible for many deaths,” according to Carell. “It was possible to differentiate between the harmless and dangerous species by using the tRNA modification profile.” For the listeria and staphylococci that were analyzed, the pathogenic and resistant species had a significantly higher proportion of some modified bases. “This is an indication that the translation process, that is the translation of the genetic code into proteins, occurs in a significantly different way than in less dangerous strains of these bacteria.”
Research team creates new possibilities for medicine and materials sciences
22.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent
22.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences