Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein That Makes Phosphate Chains In Yeast Revealed; Implications On Crops, Human Diseases

Date:
April 29, 2009
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Summary:
Polyphosphate, a long chain of phosphate molecules, is found in all life forms, and serves a multitude of purposes, from energy storage to stress response to bone calcification. Researchers in Germany are now the first to uncover how this chain is assembled in eukaryotes. The study has a wide range of potential implications ranging from improving crops to fighting diseases.

It can be found in all life forms, and serves a multitude of purposes, from energy storage to stress response to bone calcification. This molecular jack-of-all trades is polyphosphate, a long chain of phosphate molecules. Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, are now the first to uncover how this chain is assembled in eukaryotes (organisms whose cells have a nucleus).

The study, published in Science, uncovers the function of a single protein with a wide range of potential implications ranging from improving crops to fighting diseases such as sleeping sickness.

Scientists have known for a long time how bacteria make phosphate chains, but how the same process works in eukaryotes has so far remained elusive. EMBL scientists now show that in yeast a protein called Vtc4p is responsible for the production of polyphosphates. Vtc4p is part of a protein complex called vacuolar transporter chaperone complex (VTC) that is usually found in the membranes of vacuoles – pouches in which cells store molecules for later use, transport or destruction.

"This protein is like a factory," says Klaus Scheffzek, whose group carried out the research at EMBL in collaboration with the Département de Biochimie at the Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, and others, "it sits in the vacuolar membrane, generates long chains of polyphosphates and we speculate that it sends them straight to the vacuole for storage."

Vtc4p is partly embedded in the membrane and has a 'tail' hanging into the cell, which removes a phosphate molecule from ATP, an important energy carrier in the cell. Vtc4p uses the energy that is released by that cleavage to add the newly-acquired phosphate to a growing chain of phosphates. Since the rest of Vtc4 straddles the membrane, scientists suspect this protein probably transfers the polyphosphate chain to the vacuole as it produces it.

The researchers determined Vtc4p's function by looking at its 3D structure.

"This study emphasises the importance of structural biology not just to show what molecules look like and how they work but also what that function is," says Michael Hothorn from Scheffzek's group at EMBL, who is presently at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

Since polyphosphate is a ubiquitous, multi-tasking molecule with many different functions, discovering how it is produced could have implications for many different fields. Although Vtc4p is not present in plants, the discovery could have implications for agriculture, for instance in the production of fertilizers and high-yield crops. Polyphosphate is important for plant growth, and the scientists suspect Vtc4p could play an important role in making it available to plants that have fungi living in their roots. Because the VTC can move from the membrane of the vacuole to that of the cell, it could assemble phosphate chains and transfer them to outside the fungus cell, where they would be available to the plant.

The research could also pave the way for new treatments for diseases such as sleeping sickness and Chagas disease, as the parasites that cause them need polyphosphate chains to survive.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Hothorn, Heinz Neumann, Esther D. Lenherr, Mark Wehner, Vladimir Rybin, Paul O. Hassa, Andreas Uttenweiler, Monique Reinhardt, Andrea Schmidt, Jeanette Seiler, Andreas G. Ladurner, Christian Herrmann, Klaus Scheffzek, and Andreas Mayer. Catalytic Core of a Membrane-Associated Eukaryotic Polyphosphate Polymerase. Science, 2009; 324 (5926): 513-516 DOI: 10.1126/science.1168120

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Protein That Makes Phosphate Chains In Yeast Revealed; Implications On Crops, Human Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423142320.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2009, April 29). Protein That Makes Phosphate Chains In Yeast Revealed; Implications On Crops, Human Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423142320.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Protein That Makes Phosphate Chains In Yeast Revealed; Implications On Crops, Human Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423142320.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 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