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 September 21, 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 September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) 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