Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Order Helps DNA Survive Hard Times

Date:
July 6, 1999
Source:
Weizmann Institute
Summary:
DNA becomes remarkably organized in bacteria that are subjected to various conditions of stress, Weizmann Institute scientists reported in the July 1 issue of Nature. The tightly packed structure promotes the ability of the cells to withstand extreme environmental assaults such as oxidating agents and starvation. The finding may one day contribute to the development of more general methods against bacterial diseases.

Finding may one day contribute to the development of more efficient methods against antibiotics-resistant bacteria

DNA becomes remarkably organized in bacteria that are subjected to various conditions of stress, Weizmann Institute scientists reported in the July 1 issue of Nature. The tightly packed structure promotes the ability of the cells to withstand extreme environmental assaults such as oxidating agents and starvation.

The finding may one day contribute to the development of more general methods against bacterial diseases. In addition, if a link is found between the mechanisms allowing bacteria to survive under stress, and those that render bacteria resistant against various chemical agents, chemotherapy could be efficiently used against pathological bacteria which have become resistant towards other methods.

The Weizmann team, headed by Prof. Avi Minsky of the Organic Chemistry Department, discovered that bacterial DNA forms a crystalline organization when bacteria are exposed to harsh conditions. They further revealed that this highly ordered structure is mediated by a protein called Dps which strongly binds DNA to form a very stable structure. The Dps protein, initially characterized by the group of Prof. Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School with which Prof. Minsky collaborates, is present in stressed cells at high levels. Within the ordered and tightly packed DNA-Dps structure, the DNA is very effectively protected against various assaults.

"In natural environments, bacterial life alternates between short periods of feast and long periods of famine and stress." says Prof. Minsky. "In order to survive, bacteria have evolved sophisticated mechanisms that allow them to protect themselves during starvation and stress, as well as to very rapidly resume growth when nutrients are again available. The ordered DNA structure may represent the ultimate mode of protection."

The scientists used X-ray and electron microscopy techniques. They are currently using these techniques to uncover the molecular structure of the complex between the Dps protein and the DNA, in order to better understand the mode of DNA protection. "We are currently investigating the actual signal that triggers the formation of the crystalline structure once subjected to starvation or stress and the signal that effects its fast disappearance once stress is eliminated," says Minsky.

Minsky: "Order is generally considered to be incompatible with life. However, in living systems exposed to severe environmental assaults, intracellular crystalline assemblies may confer an efficient means for wide range protection. Indeed, ribosomes in brain cells of people suffering from dementia were found to form crystalline organizations. Moreover, DNA in sperm cells is highly ordered. We have now found this to be true in bacterial DNA as well and are trying to understand how general and significant the correlation between order and survival is."

Accordingly, the Weizmann team has recently begun to study the correlation between the organization of DNA and fertility in human sperm cells.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is a major scientific research graduate study located in Rehovot, Israel. Its 2,500 scientists, students and support staff are engaged in more than 1,000 research projects across the spectrum of contemporary science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weizmann Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute. "Order Helps DNA Survive Hard Times." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990706071644.htm>.
Weizmann Institute. (1999, July 6). Order Helps DNA Survive Hard Times. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990706071644.htm
Weizmann Institute. "Order Helps DNA Survive Hard Times." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990706071644.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

AFP (Sep. 23, 2014) The number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically, the WHO warned in a study on Tuesday. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) No surprise here: A recent study says men can reduce their risk of heart attack by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins