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 Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>