Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists discover bacterial defense mechanism against aggressive oxygen

Date:
November 23, 2009
Source:
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Summary:
Bacteria possess an ingenious mechanism for preventing oxygen from harming the building blocks of the cell, according to new research.

Bacteria possess an ingenious mechanism for preventing oxygen from harming the building blocks of the cell. This is the new finding of a team of biologists that includes Joris Messens of VIB, a life sciences research institute in Flanders, Belgium, connected to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The scientists made this discovery by modifying the DNA of the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli. By means of this model organism, they have uncovered the existence of a mechanism that repairs proteins in the cell that have been damaged by oxygen.

Related Articles


There are indications that a similar repair system is active in human cells. The research results are being published in the eminent scientific journal Science. At the same time, the researchers are posting an animation online that illustrates the finding.

Proteins are extremely sensitive to oxidation

Proteins are the most important components of our body's cells. They aid the chemical reactions in the cell, provide structure and support, and facilitate communication within the organism. However, proteins are particularly sensitive to harmful effects from oxygen (oxidation). This is certainly the case for proteins that contain sulfurous components, with the amino acid cysteine as the basis. This is why the cysteine building blocks often occur as pairs, in which the bond between the two sulfur atoms provides protection.

But the cell also contains proteins in which the cysteine building blocks appear alone. How these single cysteines have been protected against oxygen has been unclear. Until now. Studying E. coli, the team of scientists, under the leadership of Jean-Franηois Collet of the de Duve Institute (UCLouvain), has identified how two proteins -- DsbG and DsbC -- form the basis of an ingenious repair mechanism. Should the cysteine building block of a protein become damaged by oxygen, one of the two proteins takes care of repairing the damage.

Oxygen, a necessary evil

Oxygen is vital to the respiration of almost all cells. Among other things, the cells use the gas in the process of burning sugars to produce energy. But oxygen is a very aggressive molecule and can do serious harm to the cell's building blocks. This damage can be compared to the rusting or oxidation of iron. "Sulfurous proteins are extra-sensitive to oxidation," explains Joris Messens (VIB / the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). "If they become oxidized, they lose their functioning. This research clarifies how the cell arms itself against this event. Scientists have wondered for a long time what the function of DsbG and DsbC is and the difference between them. Now, finally, we have an answer."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Biologists discover bacterial defense mechanism against aggressive oxygen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091120094743.htm>.
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). (2009, November 23). Biologists discover bacterial defense mechanism against aggressive oxygen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091120094743.htm
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). "Biologists discover bacterial defense mechanism against aggressive oxygen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091120094743.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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