Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

15.09.2014

Bacteria are particularly ingenious when it comes to survival strategies. They often create a biofilm to protect themselves from a hostile environment, for example during treatment with antibiotics. A biofilm is a bacterial community that is surrounded by a protective slime capsule consisting of sugar chains and "curli".

Scientists at VIB and Vrije Universiteit Brussel have for the first time created a detailed three-dimensional image of the pores through which the curli building blocks cross the bacterial cell wall, a crucial step in the formation of the protective slime capsule. In addition to the fundamental insights provided by this work, the new results could in the long-term also result in many useful applications.

Han Remaut (VIB/VUB): "By determining the three-dimensional structure, it is now possible to develop small molecules that fit like a stopper in the pore of the transporter. This inhibits the excretion of the curli building blocks and can prevent the formation of curli fibers and unwanted biofilms during infections or in industrial installations."

Bacteria have other ingenious protection systems

Bacteria protect themselves against external stress factors by organizing as a biofilm. This allows pathogenic bacteria to defend themselves against treatment with antibiotics, or allows them to hide from the immune system. Bacteria also create biofilms in industrial installations, which can hamper the processes in the installation and result in blockages. Biofilms are bacterial communities that surround themselves with a protective slime capsule consisting of sugar chains and protein fibers or "curli". In order to produce this protective slime capsule, bacteria use a modified transport system to deliver curli building blocks safely to the outside of the bacteria, so that the curli fibers can be produced there.

Transport system is crucial link in defense process

Parveen Goyal and Han Remaut (VIB/VUB) reported in Nature this week on a breakthrough in the unravelling of this curli transport system. Using X-ray crystallography, they succeeded for the first time in making a detailed three-dimensional image of the pore along which the curli building blocks are transported through the bacterial cell wall. Transporting these building blocks to the outside is a remarkable feat for the bacteria. It requires energy and as curli-forming bacteria have a double cell wall, they do not have access to the usual cellular motors that drive these transport channels. Parveen Goyal (VIB/VUB): "Based on the structure of the secretion channel, we are able for the first time to build a model of how bacteria can cross this barrier."

Using biofilms for new applications?

Biofilms of non-pathogenic bacteria can also exhibit desirable properties that we can use for new applications. Han Remaut (VIB/VUB): "As they are able to polymerize by themselves and are extremely stable, curli fibers have great potential as building blocks for functional nano wires." Curli fibers could be used as carriers for other proteins, thereby forming so-called functional biofilms. For example, by coating the curli fibers with proteins and enzymes that absorb, convert or break down specific substances, they can be used for waste water treatment or the conversion of biofuels. This requires further research, but the research group reported the first steps in this direction earlier this year.

###

Publication

Research was published in the leading journal Nature.
Nature, September, 2014

Sooike Stoops | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Biofilms Biotechnology VIB VUB bacteria bacterial capsule fibers protective proteins slime strategies structure three-dimensional

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

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...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

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...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

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....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>