Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Reason for body's response to borrelia discovered

07.10.2008
Inside a cell it is so crowded that a certain protein from borrelia winds up being crunched.

From having been like an oblong rugby football, it gets bent and then collapses into a lump. At this point a previously hidden part appears, known to trigger the formation of antibodies. This explains how Borrelia can be diagnosed, a process that was previously unknown.

Congestion in the cell environment forces the protein V1sE, which exists in borrelia bacteria, to change shape. Like a jack-in-the-box, an antigen- a substance alien to the body -then pops up, prompting the body to start producing antibodies. It is precisely the prevalence of these antibodies that physicians often use to diagnose borrelia.

Until today, we have had no knowledge of how these antibodies are produced, since the antigen is hidden in the original form of the V1sE protein.

"We suspect that the changes in the shape of the protein are nature's own origami to control what functions the protein should have in specific circumstances. In this way different parts can be exposed, roughly as in the jumping fleas made of folded paper that children play with," says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, who was recently named professor of biological chemistry at Umeå University in Sweden.

Together with colleagues from the U.S., she has published these findings in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How proteins fold and change their shape has been studied intensively for many years in vitro, but in these studies primarily diluted water solution has been used. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede stresses that it makes a big difference to study a cell environment.

"A cell is not a 'sack of water.' It's a thick as a gelatin, and the total number of large molecules in a cell can correspond to up to 40 percent of its total volume. This means that proteins have less room to fold an function in," explains Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.

The crowdedness of a cell thus entails that the form and function of proteins can be affected.

"This means in such cases that it if it was possible to modulate the congestion in the cell, it could constitute a precision tool for manipulating the shape of a protein. What other proteins might have different functions if we crunched them together? With such a tool, we might be able to turn specific activities and signals on or off in proteins. We speculate that this could be used in the future to affect the course of various diseases, for example," she explains.

The study is the first to show that crowdedness in the cell can entail shape changes in a large, biologically relevant protein. The studies were carried out with the aid of computer simulations and laboratory experiments.

For further information, please contact:
Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, professor of biological chemistry, Umeå University
Phone: +46 (0)90-786 5347

Karin Wikman | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>