By creating a three-dimensional model, Queen's University biochemistry professor Zongchao Jia and post-doctoral student Jimin Zheng discovered exactly how the AceK protein acts as a switch in some bacteria to bypass the energy-producing cycle that allows bacteria like E. coli and salmonella to go into a survival mode and adapt to low-nutrient environments, such as water.
The unique feature of this discovery is that the switching on and off take place in the same location of the protein. Normally these two opposing activities would happen in two different 'active sites'.
"From a protein function point of view, this is unique and has never been discovered anywhere else," says Professor Jia.
The discovery opens the door for scientists to identify a molecule that can keep the bypass switch from turning on so bacteria will die in water. As a result, drinking water would be cleaner and the incident of water bacterial contamination, such as the Walkerton tragedy, could be reduced.
"While other organisms cannot survive without nutrients, the bypass controlled by AceK allows the bacteria to live and cause health problems," says Professor Jia.
Conversely, discovering a molecule to keep the bypass switch turned on could produce a supply of the bacteria biotechnology companies use to produce compounds, such as insulin. Instead of using glucose in the fermenting process, companies could use less nutritional and cheaper acetate.
The cost difference would be tremendous and the process would produce less carbon dioxide making the process much more environmentally friendly.
"So we haven't found a cure to stop diseases like E. coli water contamination, but we've provided a template for people to design a molecule that will disable its ability to survive in water," says Professor Jia. "It's like we have discovered how a lock works and now all we need is to design a key."
The findings of Drs. Jia and Zheng are published today in the academic journal Nature.
Queen's University is located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Michael Onesi | EurekAlert!
Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University
Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.
On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
27.02.2017 | Life Sciences