Pathogenic bacteria use small RNA molecules to adapt to their environment. Infection researchers from Würzburg have now pinpointed a protein involved in regulating the activity of these molecules.
Small regulatory RNA molecules are vital for salmonella and other bacteria potentially harmful to humans: This RNA type controls gene activity and allows bacteria to quickly adjust to changing conditions of living and stress as are typical during an infection, for example, when entering the blood stream or inside human cells.
Professor Jörg Vogel, head of the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, is a pioneer in researching small regulatory RNA molecules. He and his team are determined to get to the bottom of how these molecules work and act. His works could also show new ways to fight pathogens.
ProQ binds nearly 100 regulatory RNAs
New findings from Vogel's team have now been published in the journal PNAS: So far, two proteins (Hfg and CsrA) have been known to bind closely to the bacteria's regulatory RNA molecules and influence their activities. Using a new self-designed method, the Würzburg team has now discovered a long-suspected third protein (ProQ) whose function inside the cell has been unknown until recently.
Experiments showed that the ProQ protein binds to 98 regulatory RNAs of the enterobacterial Salmonella enterica. The bacterium has been found to have around 300 such RNAs in total. Moreover, ProQ seems to have specialised in RNA molecules with a rather complex structure.
This protein and the RNA molecules that bind to it represent a largely unresearched class of gene activity regulators in the bacterial "RNA universe". "It will be particularly exciting to find out how ProQ is able to pinpoint the highly structured RNAs among millions of other RNA molecules in a cell," says Jörg Vogel.
PNAS considers results significant
These results have been reported in PNAS by the Würzburg professor together with Alexandre Smirnov, Konrad Förstner, Erik Holmqvist and Regina Günster as well as colleagues from Greifswald and Cologne. Considered highly significant for bacterial research, the new findings are featured in the journal's "Research Highlight" section.
A new technique developed by the JMU team has successfully tracked down the activities of the ProQ protein. "The methods available so far were subject to certain limits with regard to detecting and generally classifying RNA protein interactions which we have overcome here," Professor Vogel further. Since the new method can basically be applied to any other organism, it is expected to provide more progress in researching regulatory RNA.
Smirnov A, Förstner KU, Holmqvist E, Otto A, Günster R, Becher D, Reinhardt R, Vogel J: Grad-seq guides the discovery of ProQ as a major small RNA-binding protein. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS), 113 (41): 11591–11596, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1609981113
Prof. Dr. Jörg Vogel, Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, JMU
Phone: +49 931 31-82575, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
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
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy