Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have discovered a key difference in the way human cells and Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause TB, deliver unwanted proteins — marked with a "kiss of death" sequence — to their respective cellular recycling factories.
This critical difference, described in a paper published online October 17, 2010, in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, may help scientists design drugs to disable the bacterial system while leaving normal human protein recycling centers intact.
"With tuberculosis infecting a third of the world's population, primarily in developing countries, there is great need for new, effective TB treatments," said study co-author Huilin Li, a Brookhaven biophysicist and associate professor at SBU. "Our research seeks to understand the protein-recycling mechanism of TB bacteria, because it is one of the microbe's keys to survival in human cells.* Targeting this system with small-molecule-based drugs could inhibit the bacteria and effectively treat TB."
The catch is that human cells have a similar protein-recycling system, essential for their survival, which could also be destroyed by inhibitory drugs. "It's important to find differences between the species so we can target features unique to the bacterial system," Li said.
Li has previously looked at differences in the cellular structure known as a proteasome that chops up the unwanted proteins [see links below]. The current study examined the way proteins destined for degradation are recognized by the bacterial proteasome before entering that structure.
Using beams of high-intensity x-rays at the Lab's ["http://www.nsls.bnl.gov/">National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), the scientists determined atomic-level structures of the portion of the bacterial proteasome that identifies the unwanted protein's "kiss of death" marker sequence — as well as structures of the marker sequence as it binds with the proteasome.
Based on the structures, the scientists describe a detailed mechanism by which coiled, tentacle-like arms protruding from the proteasome identify the death sentence label, causing a series of protein-folding maneuvers that pull the doomed protein into the degradation chamber.
Importantly, this interaction between the bacterial proteasome and the marker sequence is unique to bacteria. Human cells use a different marker protein and a completely different mechanism for drawing doomed proteins into the proteasome. Thus the details of proteasome-substrate interaction revealed by the current study may provide highly specific targets for the development of new anti-tuberculosis therapies.
In addition to Li, Tao Wang of Brookhaven Lab and Heran Darwin of New York University's School of Medicine contributed to this research.
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Brookhaven's Laboratory Directed Research and Development funds, and by a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases award. X-ray diffraction data for this study were collected at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), supported by the DOE Office of Science (SC). Research was performed at NSLS beam lines X25 and X29, which are supported by funding from SC and the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.
*Sidebar: TB Survival Mechanism
Most people infected with TB remain symptom-free because the bacterium is kept in check within immune system cells. These cells produce compounds such as nitric oxide, which scientists believe damage or destroy the bacteria's proteins. If allowed to accumulate, the damaged proteins would kill the bacteria. But the TB proteasome, a protein-cleaving complex, carves up the damaged proteins, allowing Mycobacterium tuberculosis to survive, and possibly go on to cause active infections.
Related LinksNew Details of Tuberculosis Protein-Cleaving Machinery Revealed:
Visit Brookhaven Lab's electronic newsroom for links, news archives, graphics, and more: http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom
Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.01.2017 | Awards Funding
19.01.2017 | Studies and Analyses