This has resulted in remarkably similar mechanisms for detecting the molecular signatures of infectious organisms that hold promise for the future treatment of infectious diseases in humans.
The recognition of microbial signature molecules by host receptors is the subject of a paper published in the journal Science titled "Plant and Animal Sensors of Conserved Microbial Signatures." The corresponding author of the paper is Pamela Ronald, a plant pathologist who holds joint appointments with the U.S Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute, where she serves as Vice President for the Feedstocks Division and directs the grass genetics program, and with the University of California (UC) Davis, where she is a professor of plant pathology. Co-authoring the paper with Ronald was Bruce Beutler, an immunologist and mammalian geneticist with the Scripps Research Institute.
"If evolution is depicted as a tree, and extant species as terminal leaves on that tree, we must acknowledge that we have examined only a few of those leaves, gaining only a fragmentary impression of what is and what once was," Ronald says. "In the future, a diverse array of evolutionarily conserved signatures from pathogenic microbes will likely be discovered and some of these will likely serve as new drug targets to control deadly groups of bacteria for which there are currently no effective treatments."
In the Science paper, Ronald describes how the long-held presumption that the mechanisms of plant and animal defense against microbes are separate and distinct has undergone a complete change.
"Discoveries over the past 15 years demonstrate that the mechanisms that allow plants and animals to resist infection show impressive structural and strategic similarity," Ronald says. "We now know that plants and animals respond to microbial signature molecules using analogous regulatory modules, which likely came about as a consequence of convergent evolution."
While host sensor–mediated immune responses are essential for innate immunity in both plants and animals, sustained or highly induced immune responses can be harmful, which makes negative regulation of these pathways critical. In animals, negative regulators act at multiple levels within certain molecular signaling cascades, but little is yet known about the negative regulation of plant innate immunity.
"Characterization of new host sensors will pave the way to inter-specific and inter-generic transfer between plants of engineered receptors that confer resistance to a variety of pathogens," Ronald says, adding that this approach has already been demonstrated in transference work with cultivated rice and wheat varieties, as well as with tobacco and tomato.
"There may also be room to engineer resistance in vertebrates as well, including humans," she says.
In the Science paper, Ronald speculates that some microbes might be pathogenic to humans because they have managed to evade detection by human Toll-like receptors. Now that some of the essential building blocks of immunity have been elucidated, she believes it may be possible to manipulate these receptors so that microbes can no longer evade them.
The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels. It is a scientific partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and including the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Visit our Website at www.lbl.gov/
Lynn Yarris | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy