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!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
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....
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...
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...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy