The team, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and based at the University of Dundee has examined the genome sequence of this workhorse of the laboratory and spotted three previously unknown genes that, it turns out, are essential for the survival of E. coli and one out of the three could also be implicated in cancer or developmental abnormalities in humans.
These mystery genes are also found in numerous other creatures, suggesting a vital role for them across many species. The research will be published in the 1 August edition of the Journal of Bacteriology.
The effort over recent years to sequence genomes of various important species has uncovered many previously unknown genes. This has given scientists the opportunity to choose to study these genes now, rather than waiting for them to make themselves known serendipitously e.g. when they are implicated in disease. Professor Tracy Palmer and her colleagues have taken three genes identified through sequencing of the E. coli genome and studied them to discover their significance.
Professor Palmer said: "Scientists have been studying E. coli genes for many, many years and we thought we knew pretty much all there was to know – we certainly didn't expect to find any more genes that are essential for survival!
"Finding out that these genes are essential in E. coli and also appear in the genomes of other species tells us that they are very important indeed. In the case of one of the genes it is also found in the human genome, which makes it especially interesting. The mystery remains as to what they actually do, but whatever it is, it must be really crucial.
"Because we now know that one of these genes is found in humans as well, we might be looking at something that is really important in our development or that might cause disease."
Early indications from Professor Palmer's work suggest that the genes, named yjeE, yeaZ and ygjD could be involved in cell division. ygjD is present in the human genome and also appears to be the key player of the three genes found in E. coli.
Professor Palmer continued: "We've done experiments that show these genes affect how E. coli cells respond to different messages that tell them when to divide. If they do the same thing in humans then any problems with these genes could easily lead to developmental abnormalities or cancer."
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: "This work is a good example of where having a genome sequence opens up many possible avenues of enquiry. It also makes clear the value of an organised approach to accessing and using genome information. Research focussed on maximising the use of genome sequences will surely, therefore, accelerate discovery of information that is of social and economic importance. BBSRC has committed to such activity through the launch of our new Genome Analysis Centre earlier this month."
CONTACTBBSRC Media Office
The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.
About University of Dundee
The University of Dundee has an international reputation for excellence in life sciences and carries out world-leading medical research into a number of diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and tropical diseases.
The University hosts research expanding from "the cell to the clinic to the community", and boasts one of the largest medical research complexes in the UK. It has an excellent track record in attracting research income and commercialising research activity
Professor Palmer's group is based within the Division of Molecular Microbiology and researches the molecular biology of bacteria such as E. coli and the soil-dwelling, Streptomyces.
Nancy Mendoza | EurekAlert!
At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History
New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy