Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Organelle’s discovery challenges theory, could alter approach to disease treatment

18.06.2003


Researchers looking inside a pathogenic soil bacterium have found an organelle, a subcellular pouch, existing independently from the plasma membrane. The discovery within a prokaryotic organism challenges the theory on the origin of eukaryotic organelles and suggests a targeted approach to killing many disease-causing organisms.


Acidocalcisomes (the black spheres) as viewed in a trypanosome, a family of parasites that cause African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis and the first organisms where Docampo found this organelle. The cell is approximately 10 microns long and 4 microns wide. Courtesy of Kildare Miranda



"The organelle we found in the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is practically identical to the organelle called acidocalcisome in unicellular eukaryotes," said Roberto Docampo, a professor of veterinary pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Docampo began researching these organelles in 1994. He soon determined that a tiny granule in yeast, fungi and bacteria, thought to be for storage, was a fully operational organelle containing pyrophosphatase, a pump-like enzyme that allows proton transport. He named it an acidocalcisome for its acidic and calcium components. In 2000, he reported its existence in Plasmodium berghei, a malaria-causing eukaryotic parasite.


The newest discovery appeared in a paper published online this month by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The paper, by Docampo and colleagues at the Center for Zoonoses Research and Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology at Illinois, will be published in a later print edition of the journal.

Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a prokaryote, a unicellular organism lacking membrane-bound nuclei. It causes crown gall disease in many broad-leaved plants but also is a favored tool for plant breeding because of its model system of DNA transfer into the hosts it invades. Samples were provided to Docampo’s team by biotechnology researcher Stephen K. Farrand, a professor of microbiology and crop sciences at Illinois.

Bacteria and other prokaryotes generally lack an endomembrane system.

Thus bacteria are presumed to lack compartments such as organelles not somehow linked to the plasma membrane ringing the organisms.

"What we describe is a discrete organelle independent of the plasma membrane," Docampo said. "It has a proton pump in its membrane, which is used to maintain its interior acidic content. This has never been described before in a bacterium."

The existence of discrete organelles is a defining component of unicellular eukaryotes, which have membrane-bound nuclei and specialized structures in their cell boundaries. The evolution of eukaryotic organelles "is a matter of extensive debate," Docampo said. The principle of endosymbiosis says that as microorganisms engulfed others, then new, membrane-surrounded organelles emerged in eukaryotes.

"It appears that this organelle has been conserved in evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, since it is present in both. This argues against the belief that all eukaryotic organelles were formed when early eukaryotes swallowed prokaryotes," he said.

Using transmission electron and immunoelectron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis on the bacterium, researchers got a highly magnified and illuminated view.

They applied a fluorescent dye into the suspected organelle. They saw a membrane around it. The dye stained areas only within it, not in the cytosol. Serum containing antibodies to peptides related to pyrophosphatase unveiled this pump-like enzyme, and other staining techniques revealed high levels of polyphosphate only in the organelle.

Many parasites such as those that cause malaria, African sleeping sickness and toxoplasmosis and bacteria that contain these acidocalcisome organelles are pathogens.

Some pharmaceutical approaches have targeted pyrophosphate-related enzymes, Docampo said. "Our suggestion is that if drugs specifically targeted these organelles, you may be able to kill the entire organisms."

In addition to Docampo, other Illinois researchers were Manfredo Seufferheld, Mauricio C.F. Vieira, Felix A. Ruiz, Claudia O. Rodrigues and Silvia N.J. Moreno. The National Institutes of Health funded the research through a grant to Docampo.

Jim Barlow | UIUC
Further information:
http://www.news.uiuc.edu/scitips/03/0617organelle.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Atacama Desert: Some lichens can meet their need for water from air humidity
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival

17.07.2019 | Life Sciences

Harvesting energy from the human knee

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Neutrino-Observatorium IceCube am Südpol wird ausgebaut

17.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>