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:
Karin Wikman | idw
Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences