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!
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences