Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quest for designer bacteria uncovers a Spy

15.02.2011
Scientists have discovered a molecular assistant called Spy that helps bacteria excel at producing proteins for medical and industrial purposes.

Bacteria are widely used to manufacture proteins used in medicine and industry, but the bugs often bungle the job. Many proteins fall apart and get cut up inside the bacteria before they can be harvested. Others collapse into useless tangles instead of folding properly, as they must in order to function normally.

A research team led by James Bardwell, who is a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and of biological chemistry, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, at the University of Michigan, developed a way to coerce bacteria into making large quantities of stable, functional proteins. Then, in exploring why these designer bacteria were so successful, the scientists discovered the molecular helper, Spy.

The research is scheduled for online publication Feb.13 in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

In the first phase of the research, the team designed biosensors that directly link protein stability to the antibiotic resistance of bacteria. When a poorly folded, unstable protein is inserted into the middle of the biosensor in a bacterium, it disrupts the bug's resistance to antibiotics. When the protein is stabilized, resistance is restored.

The researchers inserted a particularly unstable protein into Escherichia coli (E. coli), which forced the bacteria to either adapt by improving protein stability or die when exposed to antibiotics. Through a "directed evolution" experiment, in which the scientists selected colonies with increasing antibiotic resistance—and increasing protein stability—the team generated designer bacteria that produced up to 700 times more of the previously unstable protein.

"It is exciting to realize that if even bacteria are asked in the right way, they can come up with good solutions to hard problems," said postdoctoral fellow Shu Quan, who spearheaded the work.

In looking to see why the designer bacteria were so much better at producing proteins, the scientists found that the efficient microbes were making much more of a small protein called Spy. Further study showed that the cradle-shaped Spy aids in protein refolding and protects unstable proteins from being cut up or sticking to other proteins.

"Our work may usher in an era of designer bacteria that have had their folding environment customized so that they can now efficiently fold normally unstable proteins," Bardwell said.

The work was conducted in Bardwell's lab at U-M. Mirek Cygler's laboratory at McGill University solved the structure of the Spy protein. In addition to Bardwell, Quan and Cygler, the paper's authors are masters students Philipp Koldewey and Stephan Hofmann; undergraduate students Nadine Kirsch and Jennifer Pfizenmaier; postdoctoral research associates Tim Tapley, Linda Foit and Guoping Ren; associate professor Ursula Jakob and associate professor Zhaohui Xu; all of U-M; and Karen Ruane and Rong Shi of McGill University.

The researchers received funding from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

Further reports about: Escherichia coli Medical Wellness antibiotic resistance

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>