Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacterial Decision-making Explained By 'Moving' Theory

Date:
November 27, 2008
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Biochemists have answered a fundamental question of how important bacterial proteins make life-and-death decisions that allow them to function, a finding that could provide a new target for drugs to disrupt bacterial decision-making processes and related diseases.

An image of bacterial transition-state regulator protein AbrB (gold) binding to DNA on a background image of Bacillus spores. NC State researchers discovered that movement within bacterial proteins is crucial for precise function and correct bacterial decision-making processes.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

Biochemists at North Carolina State University have answered a fundamental question of how important bacterial proteins make life-and-death decisions that allow them to function, a finding that could provide a new target for drugs to disrupt bacterial decision-making processes and related diseases.

In a study published this month in the journal Structure, the NC State scientists show for the first time that the specific movements of these important bacterial proteins, called transition-state regulators, guide how the proteins bind with DNA and thus control a variety of functions. These rare proteins are like army generals sizing up a battlefield; while they all look the same and have the same rank, their highly specialized "wiggles" allow them to figure out how to bind to different parts of DNA, triggering defense capabilities, for example, or commands to set up camp and chow down.

"For the first time, we've shown that proteins with identical shapes have different movements, and these movements allow proteins to select proper DNA targets that lead to tens or hundreds of processes," says Dr. John Cavanagh, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry at NC State and the corresponding author of the paper. "Motion is really important. If the proteins didn't move, they wouldn't be able to bind to DNA and therefore to function."

Cavanagh and NC State senior biochemistry researcher Dr. Benjamin Bobay, a paper co-author, say that the findings present a new way of thinking about stopping bacteria. If a drug or antibiotic can stymie the motion of the transition-state regulators, the thinking goes, bacteria won't be able to figure out where to bind to DNA, effectively shutting the bacteria down. Killing a general, therefore, would stop the infantry from taking the battlefield.

Besides the fundamental knowledge about bacterial protein movement and DNA binding, the Structure paper also sheds light on the specific bacterial protein responsible for producing anthrax toxins.

One of the transition-state regulators studied by the NC State biochemists, called AbrB, helps control the production of the three toxins in anthrax: lethal factor, edema factor and protective antigen. Production of all three of these toxins is necessary to make anthrax lethal.

Cavanagh and Bobay say that knowledge of AbrB's function could make it a likely target for a drug that would knock out its function. That would prevent anthrax from "going lethal."

"We now know more about the protein that causes you to die from anthrax poisoning and a brand new way of understanding how important proteins bind to targets," Cavanagh said. "This presents a whole new paradigm for drug design in the arms race against harmful bacteria and disease."

The National Institutes of Health, the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences supported the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sullivan et al. Insights into the Nature of DNA Binding of AbrB-like Transcription Factors. Structure, 2008; 16 (11): 1702 DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2008.08.014

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Bacterial Decision-making Explained By 'Moving' Theory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124141059.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2008, November 27). Bacterial Decision-making Explained By 'Moving' Theory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124141059.htm
North Carolina State University. "Bacterial Decision-making Explained By 'Moving' Theory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124141059.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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:
from the past week

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