Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein synthesis in the power plants of the cell

22.01.2015

Proteins are the molecular building blocks and machines within the cell. They give rise to certain structures, catalyze chemical reactions and are therefore involved in almost all biological processes. They are mainly produced by protein factories in the cell plasma, the ribosomes. However, the power plants of the cell, the mitochondria, also run their own protein production facilities. Together with their colleagues at the TU Kaiserslautern, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried have now gained first insights into the architecture and structure of the ribosomes inside intact mitochondria. The results have recently been published in Nature Communications.

All biochemical processes in a cell require energy, which is provided by the mitochondria in form of the carrier molecule ATP. In order to produce ATP, the mitochondria require certain proteins themselves. But where do these proteins originate from?


Three-dimensional structure of a mitochondrion with increasing level of details

Picture: Stefan Pfeffer / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry

The majority is imported from the cell plasma into the mitochondria. Their building plans are stored in the genetic substance located in the nucleus, the DNA. However, a small number of the proteins necessary for the generation of energy are produced right on-site by the so-called mito-ribosomes. While the architecture of the ribosomes localized in the cell plasma has been examined intensely during the last years, scientists have only recently started to investigate the structure of the mito-ribosomes.

For the first time now, researchers in the group „Modeling of Protein Complexes“ have managed to unravel the mito-ribosome structure in its natural environment at the inner mitochondrial membrane. Here, the mito-ribosomes assemble into large complexes called polysomes. In this way, they jointly produce many copies of the same protein together. Moreover, the scientists were able to demonstrate how the association of the ribosomes with the mitochondrial surface is mediated.

“We believe that the membrane protein Mba1 is a receptor for the ribosome and beyond that supports the integration of newly synthesized proteins into the mitochondrial envelope”, speculates Friedrich Förster, head of the research group.

Such detailed insights into the architecture and contact points of the mito-ribosomes are made possible by a technology named cryo-electron tomography: in a high-speed freezing process the cells are cooled down to minus 170°C, hereby maintaining the natural structure and position of the ribosomes inside the cell. In a consecutive step, the researchers take a series of pictures from many different angles, which then are computationally merged into a three-dimensional image.

Original publication:
Pfeffer, S., Woellhaf, M.W., Herrmann, J.M., Förster, F.: Organization of the mitochondrial translation machinery studied in situ by cryo-electron tomography. Nature Commun, January 22, 2015
Doi: 10.1038/ncomms7019

Contact:
Dr. Friedrich Förster
Modeling of Protein Complexes
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
E-Mail: foerster@biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/foerster

Anja Konschak
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
Phone: +49 89 8578-2824
E-Mail: konschak@biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.biochem.mpg.de/foerster - Website of the Research Group "Modeling of Protein Complexes" (Friedrich Förster)
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/news - More press releases of the MPI of Biochemistry

Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

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...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

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...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>