Weizmann Institute scientists uncover a strategy that helps a plant-like, microscopic alga to happily proliferate in such inhospitable surroundings; their findings have unexpectedly shed light on the working of our own kidneys
Over the years, a number of Weizmann Institute scientists have addressed the question of how molecules essential to life, such as proteins, have adapted to function in extreme environments. The proteins they investigated were isolated from halophilic (salt-loving) microorganisms from the Dead Sea. After determining the 3-D structures for several halophilic proteins, researchers were able to explain how these proteins not only cope with high salinities, but are actually "addicted" to them. However, the alga Dunaliella salina is an organism of a different streak: it is able to grow in any salinity, from the extremes of the Dead Sea to nearly fresh water. The uniquely salt-tolerant Dunaliella, which is commercially grown as a source of natural beta carotene, has been investigated at the Weizmann Institute for over 30 years. Yet, the secrets of its exceptionally successful adaptation to salt remained unresolved.
In a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS), Institute scientists Prof. Ada Zamir and Dr. Lakshmanane Premkumar of the Institutes Biological Chemistry Department and Prof. Joel Sussman and Dr. Harry Greenblatt of the Structural Biology Department revealed the structural basis of a remarkably salt-tolerant Dunaliella enzyme, a carbonic anhydrase, which may hold the key. Comparisons with known carbon anhydrases from animal sources showed that the Dunaliella enzyme shares a basic plan with its distant relatives, but with a few obvious differences. The most striking of these is in the electrical charges on the proteins surfaces: Charges on the salt-tolerant enzyme are uniformly negative (though not as intensely negative as those in halophilic proteins), while the surfaces of carbonic anhydrases that dont tolerate salt sport a negative/positive/ neutral mix. This and other unique structural features may enable the algal carbonic anhydrase to be active in the presence of salt, though not dependent on it. In a surprise twist, the researchers discovered that one other known carbonic anhydrase - found in mouse kidney - sported a similar, salt-tolerant construction. Pondering why a structure conferring salt tolerance should evolve once in a Dead Sea organism and once in a mouse has led the researchers to some new insights into kidney physiology. The researchers hope that the knowledge gleaned from their study of a tiny alga might provide the basis for designing new drugs that could target enzymes based on their salt tolerance.
Alex Smith | EurekAlert!
Kidney tumor: Genetic trigger discovered
18.06.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
New type of photosynthesis discovered
18.06.2018 | Imperial College London
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
18.06.2018 | Process Engineering
18.06.2018 | Life Sciences