Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacteria don’t always work ‘just in time’

23.09.2013
Scientists of the University Jena and the TU Ilmenau calculate optimal metabolic pathways in bacteria

‘Just in time’ – not only cars are being built according to this principle nowadays. Aircraft, mobile phones and computers are also produced following this method, in which all components are delivered exactly at the time when they are needed. This saves storage capacity and therefore cash. Hence it is supposed to be particularly efficient.

In nature – the byword for efficiency – production processes are also following the ‘just-in-time-principle’ as well – at least according to the scientific consensus until now. “Living beings just can’t afford to produce more substances than necessary. Only what is really necessary will be provided,” Prof. Dr. Christoph Kaleta of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) says. In a project supported by the German Research Foundation, the Bioinformatician and his team wanted to find out how organisms succeed in producing exactly the right amount of protein that they need to be optimally adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions.

In doing so, Kaleta and his colleagues were in for a surprise: According to a report of the Jena scientists and their colleagues of the Ilmenau University of Technology in the Science Magazine ‘Nature Communications’, bacteria like for instance Escherichia coli don’t always work according to the ‘just in time’-principle at all (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3243). This mode of production is – as in industrial processes too – very efficient, but it would also be risky; if the delivery of only one of the components would fail to materialize, the whole chain might be in danger of failing.

“When the bacterial cell can afford it, it deviates from the successive activation of the enzymes which is necessary for the production of proteins,” Kaleta explains the findings of his study. Depending on the level of demand for a certain protein, the production will be dynamically adapted. “If there is a rather low demand and if the production capacity of the cell is capable, all enzymes will be increased at the same time,” the Junior Professor for Theoretical Systems Biology says. Or, to return to the image of the industrial production of goods: all components are being produced at the same time. Only when the demand for protein is so high that the simultaneous production of all ‘components’ would overstrain the cell, are they being delivered ‘just in time‘.

For their study, the researchers applied methods which are otherwise used for the optimization of industrial processes. “Thereby we could prove that many bacteria indeed use those strategies for the optimal production of proteins which we postulated,” says Kaleta. In this way, technology was for once able to deliver the tools for a better understanding of nature, the 30 year old junior scientist smilingly stresses. “Usually it is the other way around and we often develop technology along the lines of the example of nature.”

Their work, the Jena Bioinformaticians are convinced, is not only interesting fundamental research; one day these findings will be useful in a very practical way. “It is easily conceivable to use it to fight pathogens,” Kaleta says. This is because during a process of infection the pathogens adapt very quickly to the situation in the host organism as well. “When it becomes clear which programme the metabolism of the pathogen is based upon, we can specifically look for points of vantage for new active substances that can stop the growth and proliferation of the pathogen.”

Original Publication:
Bartl M, Kötzing M, Schuster S, Li P, Kaleta C. Dynamic optimization identifies optimal programmes for pathway regulation in prokaryotes (2013), Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3243
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Christoph Kaleta
Research Group Theoretical Systems Biology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Leutragraben 1, D-07743 Jena
Germany
Phone: ++49 3641 949590
Email: christoph.kaleta[at]uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>