Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery may lead to safer drinking water, cheaper medicine

Date:
May 27, 2010
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
A discovery that may pave the way to helping reduce health hazards such as E. coli in water could also make chemicals and drugs such as insulin cheaper to produce and their production more environmentally friendly. By creating a three-dimensional model, biochemists discovered exactly how the AceK protein acts as a switch in some bacteria to bypass the energy-producing cycle that allows bacteria like E. coli and salmonella to go into a survival mode and adapt to low-nutrient environments, such as water.

Professor Zongchao Jia and post-doctoral student Jimin Zheng.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen's University

A discovery that may pave the way to helping reduce health hazards such as E. coli in water could also make chemicals and drugs such as insulin cheaper to produce and their production more environmentally friendly.

Related Articles


By creating a three-dimensional model, Queen's University biochemistry professor Zongchao Jia and post-doctoral student Jimin Zheng discovered exactly how the AceK protein acts as a switch in some bacteria to bypass the energy-producing cycle that allows bacteria like E. coli and salmonella to go into a survival mode and adapt to low-nutrient environments, such as water.

The unique feature of this discovery is that the switching on and off take place in the same location of the protein. Normally these two opposing activities would happen in two different 'active sites'.

"From a protein function point of view, this is unique and has never been discovered anywhere else," says Professor Jia.

The discovery opens the door for scientists to identify a molecule that can keep the bypass switch from turning on so bacteria will die in water. As a result, drinking water would be cleaner and the incident of water bacterial contamination, such as the Walkerton tragedy, could be reduced.

"While other organisms cannot survive without nutrients, the bypass controlled by AceK allows the bacteria to live and cause health problems," says Professor Jia.

Conversely, discovering a molecule to keep the bypass switch turned on could produce a supply of the bacteria biotechnology companies use to produce compounds, such as insulin. Instead of using glucose in the fermenting process, companies could use less nutritional and cheaper acetate.

The cost difference would be tremendous and the process would produce less carbon dioxide making the process much more environmentally friendly.

"So we haven't found a cure to stop diseases like E. coli water contamination, but we've provided a template for people to design a molecule that will disable its ability to survive in water," says Professor Jia. "It's like we have discovered how a lock works and now all we need is to design a key."

The findings of Drs. Jia and Zheng are published in the academic journal Nature.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jimin Zheng, Zongchao Jia. Structure of the bifunctional isocitrate dehydrogenase kinase/phosphatase. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09088

Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Discovery may lead to safer drinking water, cheaper medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526141850.htm>.
Queen's University. (2010, May 27). Discovery may lead to safer drinking water, cheaper medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526141850.htm
Queen's University. "Discovery may lead to safer drinking water, cheaper medicine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100526141850.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. 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