Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Reason for body's response to borrelia discovered

07.10.2008
Inside a cell it is so crowded that a certain protein from borrelia winds up being crunched.

From having been like an oblong rugby football, it gets bent and then collapses into a lump. At this point a previously hidden part appears, known to trigger the formation of antibodies. This explains how Borrelia can be diagnosed, a process that was previously unknown.

Congestion in the cell environment forces the protein V1sE, which exists in borrelia bacteria, to change shape. Like a jack-in-the-box, an antigen- a substance alien to the body -then pops up, prompting the body to start producing antibodies. It is precisely the prevalence of these antibodies that physicians often use to diagnose borrelia.

Until today, we have had no knowledge of how these antibodies are produced, since the antigen is hidden in the original form of the V1sE protein.

"We suspect that the changes in the shape of the protein are nature's own origami to control what functions the protein should have in specific circumstances. In this way different parts can be exposed, roughly as in the jumping fleas made of folded paper that children play with," says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, who was recently named professor of biological chemistry at Umeå University in Sweden.

Together with colleagues from the U.S., she has published these findings in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How proteins fold and change their shape has been studied intensively for many years in vitro, but in these studies primarily diluted water solution has been used. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede stresses that it makes a big difference to study a cell environment.

"A cell is not a 'sack of water.' It's a thick as a gelatin, and the total number of large molecules in a cell can correspond to up to 40 percent of its total volume. This means that proteins have less room to fold an function in," explains Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.

The crowdedness of a cell thus entails that the form and function of proteins can be affected.

"This means in such cases that it if it was possible to modulate the congestion in the cell, it could constitute a precision tool for manipulating the shape of a protein. What other proteins might have different functions if we crunched them together? With such a tool, we might be able to turn specific activities and signals on or off in proteins. We speculate that this could be used in the future to affect the course of various diseases, for example," she explains.

The study is the first to show that crowdedness in the cell can entail shape changes in a large, biologically relevant protein. The studies were carried out with the aid of computer simulations and laboratory experiments.

For further information, please contact:
Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, professor of biological chemistry, Umeå University
Phone: +46 (0)90-786 5347

Karin Wikman | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens
14.08.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments
14.08.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>