Microbes are well-known for their ability to grow in demanding and nutritionally poor environments, which has allowed them to colonise some of the most remote places on the planet. Bacteria living in theoretically nutrient-rich environments like the mammalian intestine face similar challenges due to intense competition between bacterial species in the intestine for the finite amount of available food.
Researchers led by Dr Gavin Thomas in the University’s Department of Biology discovered that a protein present in the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli was a unique sugar transporter.
Common sugars like glucose form a cyclic structure called a ‘pyranose’ when dissolved in water. All transporters for glucose recognise the pyranose form. But, for sugars such as galactose, which is commonly found in dairy produce, around 10 per cent is found in a different ring form called a ‘furanose’.
Initial work on the unknown E. coli transporter by Dr Thomas’s team suggested that it was a galactose transporter. The researchers knew that E. coli has a galactopyranose transporter already, so why should the bacterium have evolved another system to do exactly the same thing?
The answer to the problem was discovered when researchers led by Professor Keith Wilson in the York Structural Biology Laboratory solved the 3D structure of the protein, revealing that it was bound to the rarer furanose form of galactose. Experiments by Dr Jennifer Potts in the University’s Centre for Magnetic Resonance confirmed that the transporter was the first biological example to recognise furanose over pyranose forms.
Dr Thomas said: “The picture that emerges is that bacteria have evolved many related transporters to allow them to exploit every possible potential source of nutrient in their environment. Being able to use the extra 10 per cent of galactose available in the gut appears a trivial adaptation. But it is exactly the small change required to allow E. coli to grow a little bit faster when galactose is present in the gut, and so persist at the expense of other species of bacteria.”
The work was funded through a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council quota studentship to Dr Richard Horler in the laboratory of Dr Thomas. The research involved Dr Axel Muller, from the laboratory of Professor Wilson, and NMR expertise from David Williamson and Dr Potts. The work was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
David Garner | EurekAlert!
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences