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!
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences