Heidelberg chemists investigate the biological function of patellamides
Researchers at Heidelberg University have gained new knowledge on the possible biological function of patellamides. In laboratory experiments, they were able to demonstrate that this natural product displays important catalytic activity in combination with copper(II).
Photo: Annika Eisenschmidt
To investigate the stability of the copper(II)-patellamide complexes in Prochloron, blue-green algae from the Great Barrier reef were isolated along with their host Lissoclinum patella (the pale blue organism in the picture). Near Heron Island off Australia's eastern coast, Dr Geoffrey Nette supervised collection of the organisms at a depth of one to three meters along the reef crest.
The team of scientists headed by chemist Prof. Dr Peter Comba developed a special method to determine whether this activity can also be observed in the patellamide-producing organisms. This means that stable copper(II) patellamide complexes could be confirmed in living cells – which would imply that these compounds can act as catalysts. It may even point to a new type of enzyme.
Patellamides were first isolated in 1981 from the ascidian Lissoclinum patella. Today, scientists know that they are not produced by the ascidian itself but by its symbiont, the blue-green algae Prochloron. In earlier laboratory experiments, the Heidelberg researchers already proved that patellamides bind two copper(II) ions to form a complex that functions, among others, as a catalyst for the absorption of carbon dioxide.
Based on these findings, the researchers now want to find out, if the catalytic activity of the dinuclear copper(II)-patellamide compounds also plays a role inside the Prochloron cells – that is, whether they could be a new type of enzyme.
Therefore, Dr Annika Eisenschmidt explored the stability of the complexes in blue-green algae as part of her doctoral thesis. She prepared an artificial patellamide with a so-called fluorescence marker, which causes the modified patellamide to illuminate. The fluorescence is extinguished, however, as soon as the patellamide binds copper(II).
Because Prochloron can only be isolated from the Great Barrier Reef and the cells are observed to merely stay alive for one week after collection, the method was first tested on a related algae. The researchers subsequently expanded their experiments in cooperation with colleagues in Australia.
It was thus possible to isolate the Prochloron cells on site together with the host, the ascidian Lissioclinum patella. The artificial, fluorescing patellamides could then be introduced into the cells. The result: As previously observed in the test tube, the fluorescence extinguished when copper(II) was added to these cells. According to Peter Comba, this demonstrates that stable copper(II)-patellamide complexes are formed inside the Prochloron cells.
The scientists will now attempt to identify the exact structure of these complexes in living cells. “If the compounds are dinuclear, as we observed in our laboratory experiments, then they could actually have important functions as enzymes,” emphasises the chemist.
P. Comba, A. Eisenschmidt, L.R. Gahan, D.P. Herten, G. Nette, G. Schenk, and M. Seefeld: Is CuII coordinated to patellamides inside Prochloron cells? Chemistry – A European Journal (published online 24 March 2017), doi: 10.1002/chem.201700895
Prof. Dr Peter Comba
Institute of Inorganic Chemistry
Phone +49 6221 54-8453
Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone +49 6221 54-2311
Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences