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 April 23, 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 April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) 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