Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Identifying the Path to Infection


New protein structure is a first step toward preventing E. coli diseases

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have determined the two-dimensional crystal structure of a membrane protein involved in the process by which the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria infects a human. This protein structure is a first step to better understanding how an E. coli infection begins, which may lead to information on how to block it.

“E. coli is responsible for urinary tract infections, one of the most prevalent diseases in the U.S.,” said Brookhaven biologist Huilin Li, the lead researcher on the study, described in the November 2, 2004, online edition of the Journal of Molecular Biology. “Between 50 and 80 percent of U.S. women will experience a urinary tract infection at least once during their lifetimes.”

“In the first stage of the infection, E. coli binds tightly to human kidney cells, using an ‘adhesive protein’ secreted by the cells through a membrane protein ‘channel.’ Our structure of this protein channel helps show how secretion occurs, which may eventually lead us to determine how to stop E. coli from attaching to the human cell,” said Li.

The protein channel, known as “PapC,” is a member of the “chaperone/usher” family, channels that not only provide a pathway for certain substances to leave a cell but also participate in preparing the substance for secretion. In this case, PapC gathers the “parts” that make up the adhesive and then guides the assembled adhesive out of the cell.

Li and his colleagues found that PapC consists of two main structural elements, with each part containing one opening, or pore. Each pore is approximately two nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter, and the entire structure is 11 nanometers in length and seven nanometers wide.

While this structure might suggest that PapC uses both pores simultaneously, the researchers think that only one of the two pores may be in use at once. However, the twin pore configuration might be necessary to coordinate the assembly and secretion of the adhesive. This is consistent with other membrane proteins that perform similar functions. “Our finding provides new insight into how the adhesive protein is assembled and secreted, but we need to know more about this process,” said Li. “A greater understanding of this will aid in the study and treatment of urinary tract infections and other related diseases.”

To determine the structure, the researchers grew a two-dimensional crystal of PapC – a sheet with a thickness of just one protein. To image individual proteins in the crystal, they used a technique called cryo-electron microscopy. In this method, the crystal is cooled to about minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit using liquid nitrogen and placed in an electron microscope. This device bombards the sample with high-energy electrons, which scatter off the atoms in the crystal. A lens inside the microscope focuses these electrons, forming a high-resolution image, which is recorded using film or a digital camera. The recorded images are analyzed by a computer, yielding the structure of the protein molecule.

This method produced a top-down image of the protein channel from an “untilted” sheet of crystals – that is, the electron beam hit the sheet head-on. To determine the channel’s three-dimensional structure, Li and his group plan to perform additional high-resolution imaging experiments using the same crystal sheet, but tilting it to large angles. This will allow the electrons to scatter off and produce an image of the protein channel’s other sides.

This research is a collaborative effort between researchers in Brookhaven Lab’s Biology Department, Tianbo Liu of Brookhaven’s Physics Department, and David Thanassi, a biologist in Stony Brook University’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. The research was funded by a Brookhaven Laboratory Directed Research and Development grant, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Laura Mgrdichian | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>