Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Erratic proteins: new insights into a transport mechanism

30.09.2013
The outer membrane of bacteria contains many proteins that form tiny pores. They are important for absorbing nutrients and transmitting signals into the cell.

The research group of Sebastian Hiller, Professor of Structural Biology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has now shown for the first time at atomic resolution, that these pore proteins are transported in an unstructured, constantly changing state to the outer bacterial membrane. This landmark study was recently published in the scientific journal “Nature Structural and Molecular Biology”.

The cell membrane of a bacterium is a natural barrier to the environment and at the same time, their door to the world. Gram-negative bacteria surround themselves with two membrane layers. They communicate with the environment through proteins that form tiny pores in the outer cell membrane. How these membrane proteins reach their target destination in the bacterium Escherichia coli could now be observed for the first time at the atomic level by Professor Sebastian Hiller, from the Biozentrum at the University of Basel.

Molecular “ferry” ensures safe protein transport
New proteins are produced in the protein factories inside the cell. Proteins destined for the outer membrane require a molecular “ferry” to remain intact as they pass the aqueous layer between the two membranes. The protein Skp is such a ferry, transporting the not yet folded proteins across the periplasmic space. At the outer membrane, they fold into their three-dimensional structure and incorporate into the outer membrane.

The current study by Hiller provides an exceptional and deep insight into this transport mechanism. The membrane protein is loosely embedded in the solid structure of Skp during transport and does not adopt on a defined spatial structure itself. “Amazingly, the unfolded protein changes its state constantly – faster than thousand times per second and more than ten million times during the crossing,” explained Hiller. “Only through employing modern nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, it has become possible to detect this dynamic behavior within Skp.” Transporting the membrane protein in such a changing state does not require energy and allows for its rapid release at the destination.

Dynamic transport as a general principle
Although the structure of Skp has been known for a long time, the current study shows that the dynamics of the Skp-membrane protein complex is important for the formation of the outer membrane proteins. With the atomic resolution measurements, Hiller and his team were also able to uncover a general principle how proteins can be transported without requiring energy. In the future, the team of scientists wants to investigate further proteins that are involved in the transport and folding process.
Original Source
Björn M Burmann, Congwei Wang & Sebastian Hiller (2013)
Conformation and dynamics of the periplasmic membrane-protein–chaperone complexes OmpX–Skp and tOmpA–Skp

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Published online 29 September 2013 | doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2677

Reto Caluori | idw
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch
http://www.unibas.ch/index.cfm?uuid=96855398D62121F8339989EA09D23513&type=search&show_long=1&o_lang_id=2

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>