Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How cells make the most of limited resources

Date:
February 28, 2012
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Summary:
The bacterium that causes atypical pneumonia is helping scientists uncover how cells make the most of limited resources. By measuring all the proteins this bacterium produces, scientists have found that the secret is fine-tuning.

The bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes atypical pneumonia, is helping scientists uncover how cells make the most of limited resources. By measuring all the proteins this bacterium produces, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and collaborators, have found that the secret is fine-tuning.

Like a mechanic can fine-tune a car after it has left the factory, cells have ways to tweak proteins, changing their chemical properties after production -- so-called post-translational modifications. Anne-Claude Gavin, Peer Bork and colleagues at EMBL measured how many of M. pneumoniae's proteins had certain modifications. They found that two forms of tweaking which were known to be common in our own cells are equally prevalent in this simple bacterium. Called phosphorylation and lysine acetylation, these two types of post-translational modification also talk to and interfere with each other: the scientists found that disrupting one can cause changes in the other. Since M. pneumoniae is one of the living organisms with the fewest different proteins, this interplay between phosphorylation and lysine acetylation may be a way of getting additional functions out of a limited number of proteins: by tweaking each protein in several ways, enabling it to perform a variety of tasks. And, as more complex cells like our own share the same protein-tweaking tactics, it is probably an ancient strategy that evolved before our branch of the evolutionary tree and M.pneumoniae's branched their separate ways.

The scientists also found that phosphorylation levels in M. pneumoniae control how much of each protein the bacterium has. Interestingly, it does so not only by influencing whether protein-building instructions encoded in DNA are read, but also by altering proteins that are involved in building other proteins. This fine-tuning may enable the cell to react faster to changing needs or situations.

When they disrupted M. pneumoniae's ability to tweak proteins, Gavin, Bork and colleagues also discovered that disaster doesn't necessarily ensue. As in our own cells, proteins in this bacterium rarely work alone. They interact with each other, work together, or perform different steps in chain reactions. The scientists found that these protein networks have a certain buffering ability: disrupting one protein can affect its immediate partners, but the problems may not propagate throughout the whole network. The scientists hope that mapping the different networks may one day enable them to predict where a targeted disruption might do the most damage, which could eventually provide valuable information for drug design.

The work, recently published online  in Molecular Systems Biology, was conducted in collaboration with the Centro de Regulacion Genomica in Barcelona, Spain, Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Georg-August University Göttingen and Heidelberg University, both in Germany.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vera van Noort, Jan Seebacher, Samuel Bader, Shabaz Mohammed, Ivana Vonkova, Matthew J Betts, Sebastian Kühner, Runjun Kumar, Tobias Maier, Martina O'Flaherty, Vladimir Rybin, Arne Schmeisky, Eva Yus, Jörg Stülke, Luis Serrano, Robert B Russell, Albert JR Heck, Peer Bork, Anne-Claude Gavin. Cross-talk between phosphorylation and lysine acetylation in a genome-reduced bacterium. Molecular Systems Biology, 2012; 8 DOI: 10.1038/msb.2012.4

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "How cells make the most of limited resources." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120228102019.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2012, February 28). How cells make the most of limited resources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120228102019.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "How cells make the most of limited resources." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120228102019.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) — West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) 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