Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Synthetic Biology: Engineered Bacteria

Date:
March 18, 2010
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
Researchers have devised a way to attach sugars to proteins using unique biological and chemical methods. This means that large quantities of different glycoproteins can be generated for various medical and biological studies.

The E. coli bacterium produces a protein to which a sugar is attached using an engineered glycosylation machinery. Outside the cell, enzymes trim off the monosaccharide. Other chemically synthesized sugars are then attached.
Credit: Diagram: F. Schwarz / ETH Zurich

Researchers have devised a way to attach sugars to proteins using unique biological and chemical methods. This means that large quantities of different glycoproteins can be generated for various medical and biological studies.

The E. coli bacterium produces a protein to which a sugar is attached using an engineered glycosylation machinery. Outside the cell, enzymes trim off the monosaccharide. Other chemically synthesized sugars are then attached. (Diagram: F. Schwarz / ETH Zurich)

When the intestinal bacterium E. coli and the diarrheal pathogen Campylobacter work together, it does not have to result in serious illness. Rather, when biologists and chemists team to use the product of this bacterial collaboration, it opens up a whole new technology with potential pharmaceutical applications. Now, the PhD student Flavio Schwarz from Professor Markus Aebi's group at the Institute of Microbiology of ETH-Zurich and researchers from the University of Maryland have developed a new method for producing glycoproteins.

New tool

E. coli is a well-known biological workhorse that can be used to produce recombinant proteins. The problem is that E. coli is missing many of the functions required to modify proteins with sugar molecules. Markus Aebi's team, however, recently discovered that Campylobacter can do something that only eukaryotes like human cells can: attach sugar molecules to proteins following synthesis to produce glycoproteins.

The researchers recently reported this ground-breaking work in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. In this engineered glycosylation system, some of the genes from the Campylobacter glycosylation machinery are introduced into E. coli, thereby enabling the E. coli to produce glycoproteins. In a second step, unnecessary parts of the sugars are removed outside the bacterial cells and replaced with chemically synthesized sugar molecules of different size and structure, to produce sugar structures resembling human glycans.

Glycoproteins define blood group

This means that different glycoproteins can now efficiently be produced, thus helping researchers to analyze the structure and function of individual glycoproteins in a more precise manner. If you want to study host-pathogen interactions, for instance, you need pure samples of a particular glycoprotein, whereas natural systems can only offer researchers a highly complex blend of such substances.

Glycoproteins play a crucial role in biology. They are found more frequently on the surface of cells than "normal" proteins and they participate in numerous cellular processes, such as cell to cell communication. They are present throughout the human body, also in mucus, and the different glycosylation of blood proteins contribute to define the blood group antigen.

Blossoming concept

The new technology also has great potential for the development of new cancer treatments. These therapeutic glycoproteins can be produced specifically-tailored to remain in the bloodstream longer while targeting cancerous cells.

"For now, we have simply managed to prove that our concept works. It remains to be seen what potential practical applications it might have," says Flavio Schwarz from the Life Science Zurich Graduate School. The new process was actually a "by-product" of his dissertation -- further proof that basic research can also produce application-oriented results. It just needs resourceful people like Flavio Schwarz who recognize this.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Schwarz F et al. A combined method for producing homogenous glycoproteins with eukaryotic N-glycosylation. Nature Chemical Biology, Published online 28 Feb, 2010 DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.314

Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "Synthetic Biology: Engineered Bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100317231614.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2010, March 18). Synthetic Biology: Engineered Bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100317231614.htm
ETH Zurich. "Synthetic Biology: Engineered Bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100317231614.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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