Analyzing marine and terrestrial samples obtained from Alaska to San Diego's La Jolla Cove, a research technique jointly created by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego and their colleagues taps powerful laboratory instruments to trace promising chemical compounds back to their genomic roots. The method is described in the October 9 online publication of the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
"With only very small amounts of crude sample material, the mass spectrometer is able to fragment the unknown peptide into individual amino acid building blocks, so we can then map those to the genome level," said Kersten, who works jointly in Pieter Dorrestein's laboratory at the School of Pharmacy and Brad Moore's lab at the Scripps Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine. "That provides us information about how to reassemble the molecule."
Knowing such minutiae through this genomic "mining" approach gives scientists a way to connect the natural chemicals produced by organisms back to the enzymes that construct them. These "biosynthetic pathways" are considered prized information in the search for new pharmaceuticals to treat diseases.
Using the new method, the scientists have already discovered two new classes of peptides, compounds made of amino acids that serve in functions ranging from communication to protection.
"This represents a paradigm shift in the way that natural products are discovered and characterized, and it's fundamentally different than what's been practiced for the past decades in this field," said Moore, a professor at Scripps and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego. "This has the capability of really changing the way natural products, or simply chemicals, are discovered in nature."Dorrestein, Moore and Kersten are working on ways to automate the process to more quickly analyze biological samples. They believe the new technique will streamline the discovery of promising natural products.
"We're trying to bring up the speed of discovery in chemistry," said Moore. "There's a huge amount of information that's out there and we are only scratching the surface-we'd like to dig a little deeper."
"My UC San Diego colleague Bill Gerwick often states that natural products are a part of central dogma following DNA, RNA and proteins" said Dorrestein. "I agree with Bill, natural products and related chemistries control biology yet these molecules are difficult to characterize. The tools for characterizing the molecules that control biology have not kept pace with modern science. The thought process introduced in this manuscript provides the foundation for finally bringing the fourth branch of central dogma into the realm of modern life sciences."
In addition to Kersten, Moore and Dorrestein, coauthors of the paper include Yu-Liang Yang and Yuquan Xu of the Skaggs School; Peter Cimermancic and Michael Fischbach of UC San Francisco; and Sang-Jip Nam and William Fenical of Scripps Oceanography.
The National Institutes of Health and the Beckman Foundation provided financial support for the research.
Mario Aguilera | Newswise Science News
New study finds distinct microbes living next to corals
22.05.2019 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summit charts a course to uncover the origins of genetic diseases
22.05.2019 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future
When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...
Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells
The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
22.05.2019 | Life Sciences
22.05.2019 | Life Sciences
22.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy