Microbes are well-known for their ability to grow in demanding and nutritionally poor environments, which has allowed them to colonise some of the most remote places on the planet. Bacteria living in theoretically nutrient-rich environments like the mammalian intestine face similar challenges due to intense competition between bacterial species in the intestine for the finite amount of available food.
Researchers led by Dr Gavin Thomas in the University’s Department of Biology discovered that a protein present in the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli was a unique sugar transporter.
Common sugars like glucose form a cyclic structure called a ‘pyranose’ when dissolved in water. All transporters for glucose recognise the pyranose form. But, for sugars such as galactose, which is commonly found in dairy produce, around 10 per cent is found in a different ring form called a ‘furanose’.
Initial work on the unknown E. coli transporter by Dr Thomas’s team suggested that it was a galactose transporter. The researchers knew that E. coli has a galactopyranose transporter already, so why should the bacterium have evolved another system to do exactly the same thing?
The answer to the problem was discovered when researchers led by Professor Keith Wilson in the York Structural Biology Laboratory solved the 3D structure of the protein, revealing that it was bound to the rarer furanose form of galactose. Experiments by Dr Jennifer Potts in the University’s Centre for Magnetic Resonance confirmed that the transporter was the first biological example to recognise furanose over pyranose forms.
Dr Thomas said: “The picture that emerges is that bacteria have evolved many related transporters to allow them to exploit every possible potential source of nutrient in their environment. Being able to use the extra 10 per cent of galactose available in the gut appears a trivial adaptation. But it is exactly the small change required to allow E. coli to grow a little bit faster when galactose is present in the gut, and so persist at the expense of other species of bacteria.”
The work was funded through a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council quota studentship to Dr Richard Horler in the laboratory of Dr Thomas. The research involved Dr Axel Muller, from the laboratory of Professor Wilson, and NMR expertise from David Williamson and Dr Potts. The work was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
David Garner | EurekAlert!
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
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
26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
26.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy