By deciphering the ingenious mechanism used by a particular enzyme to modify bacterial chromosome chemistry, scientists have come a step closer to designing a new kind of drug that could stop virulent bacterial infections in their tracks. Their research will be published in the May 6 issue of the journal Cell.
Scientists have known for many years that an enzyme called Dam (DNA adenine methyltransferase) plays a role in regulating gene expression in many bacteria. Each time the bacteria reproduce, Dam modifies the A (adenine) nucleotide in the DNA sequence GATC through a chemical reaction known as methylation. Methylation is a biological process used to tag a variety of molecules, including DNA, and is important in cellular processes such as regulating gene expression, DNA replication and repair. In humans DNA methylation occurs on the C (cytosine) rather than the A (adenine) nucleotide.
Recently scientists have discovered a new role for Dam methylation. Dam also is essential for regulating the expression of genes responsible for bacterial virulence. When the gene responsible for Dam is defective, bacteria lose their disease-causing potency. Using the X-ray diffraction facility at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, Xiaodong Cheng, PhD, professor of biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and John Horton, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, have now solved the co-crystal structure of the Dam enzyme in complex with DNA, which has allowed them to observe exactly how the enzyme finds its target on bacterial DNA.
Holly Korschun | EurekAlert!
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COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
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