Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding a bacterial immune system one step at a time

Date:
May 17, 2011
Source:
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Summary:
Researchers have taken an important step in understanding an immune system of bacteria, a finding that could have implications for medical care and both the pharmaceutical and dairy industries.

Researchers at the University of Alberta have taken an important step in understanding an immune system of bacteria, a finding that could have implications for medical care and both the pharmaceutical and dairy industries.

In research published in the high impact journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Andrew MacMillan and co-workers in his lab have described the first step of the immune response of bacterial cells. Scientists had previously found that a bacterial virus, called a bacteriophage, attacks a bacterial cell by injecting its DNA in to the cell. MacMillan's lab discovered the mechanism by which bacterial RNA is cut into pieces by a specific protein; these pieces then target the invading virus' DNA.

"We are starting at the beginning because we want to understand how this works and how we can use this to basically control bacterial growth," said Matt Schellenberg, a post-doctoral fellow in the MacMillan lab in the department of biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. This system could be beneficial for bacteria to fight off invasion of viruses. Alternatively, medical professionals could use knowledge of this system to help fight a human bacterial infection.

According to MacMillan they used a technique called X-ray crystallography to produce high-resolution pictures of a key step in the bacteria's immune response -- the production of the targeting RNAs.

"Bacteria have evolved this system to protect themselves against infection," said MacMillan.

As they unfold the mystery of the bacteria cells immune system, which is named the CRISPR system, there are implications for a variety of industrial practices involving fermentation. Everything from cheese and yogurt production to the synthesis of complex pharmaceuticals relies on large scale bacterial fermentation which is at risk of bacteriophage infection with expensive consequences -- losing the batch. The labs ongoing work could help these industries boost the immune systems of the "good" bacteria.

The next step for the lab is to uncover the mechanism by which virus' DNA is destroyed.

"We want to use what we've learned so far to examine the actual targeting mechanism," says Macmillan. "This is a complex pathway and there's a lot of exciting biology to still uncover."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Emily M Gesner, Matthew J Schellenberg, Erin L Garside, Mark M George, Andrew M MacMillan. Recognition and maturation of effector RNAs in a CRISPR interference pathway. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2042

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Understanding a bacterial immune system one step at a time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517121918.htm>.
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. (2011, May 17). Understanding a bacterial immune system one step at a time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517121918.htm
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Understanding a bacterial immune system one step at a time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110517121918.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) 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