Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Oxygen 'sensor' may shut down DNA transcription

Date:
June 19, 2012
Source:
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Summary:
A key component found in an ancient anaerobic microorganism may serve as a sensor to detect potentially fatal oxygen, researchers have found. This helps researchers learn more about the function of these components, called iron-sulfur clusters, which occur in different parts of cells in all living creatures.

Daniel Lessner and his colleagues have taken the first step towards showing that iron-sulfur clusters in an ancient microorganism may serve as sensors to detect oxygen, which can be fatal to the anaerobes.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

A key component found in an ancient anaerobic microorganism may serve as a sensor to detect potentially fatal oxygen, a University of Arkansas researcher and his colleagues have found. This helps researchers learn more about the function of these components, called iron-sulfur clusters, which occur in different parts of cells in all living creatures.

Related Articles


Daniel Lessner, assistant professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues report their findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Lessner studies methanogens, ancient anaerobic microorganisms that live in extreme environments, including the human gut. In these organisms, he looks at RNA polymerase, a protein that "reads" DNA and produces RNA, which contains codes to build proteins. This process is found in most of the things we think of as "living."

Methanogens interest space scientists because they can survive in extreme temperature conditions and in hostile environments. They interest health researchers because some species found in the human gut may influence digestion. They also interest energy producers because they are the only life form that produces methane gas. Because of this, it's important to understand how these ancient microscopic creatures work.

The iron-sulfur clusters also are important because they exist in most life forms, including humans -- in fact, you could not survive without your iron-sulfur clusters. "It is likely that life evolved at the interface of iron and sulfur minerals," Lessner said. In some methanogens and other single-celled organisms, the protein RNA polymerase contains iron-sulfur clusters. However, these iron-sulfur clusters are not typically found in this protein, except in certain species, including methanogens.

Better understanding of the role of iron-sulfur clusters in this simple organism will help scientists understand and perhaps control production pathways in these microorganisms to produce methane gas as a biofuel.

The researchers decided to see if they could figure out why these organisms contain iron-sulfur clusters in their RNA polymerase. They found that without the clusters, a part of the protein changed its shape, which would in turn change its interactions with other parts of the protein. The clusters might serve to regulate the assembly of the parts of RNA polymerase.

The researchers believe that the iron-sulfur clusters serve as a sensor to shut down the creation of RNA from DNA in the presence of oxygen because oxygen reacts with iron-sulfur clusters to destroy them. This in turn would help the methanogen survive.

"This may be a way to conserve energy," Lessner said. "Organisms may have retained these clusters to serve a similar role in diverse species so that organisms can respond to changes in the environment.

"This is the first step in figuring out the protein properties and seeing how it works," he said. Next the researchers will genetically modify the protein to change the number of iron-sulfur clusters and see what happens.

This paper was made possible by a National Science Foundation grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. H. Lessner, M. E. Jennings, A. Hirata, E. C. Duin, D. J. Lessner. Subunit D of RNA Polymerase from Methanosarcina acetivorans Contains Two Oxygen-labile [4Fe-4S] Clusters: IMPLICATIONS FOR OXIDANT-DEPENDENT REGULATION OF TRANSCRIPTION. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012; 287 (22): 18510 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.331199

Cite This Page:

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Oxygen 'sensor' may shut down DNA transcription." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120619092935.htm>.
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. (2012, June 19). Oxygen 'sensor' may shut down DNA transcription. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120619092935.htm
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Oxygen 'sensor' may shut down DNA transcription." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120619092935.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Driverless Budii Gives the Wheel Feel

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) The Rinspeed Budii Concept car is creating a driverless stir at this year&apos;s Geneva car show. It&apos;s an all-electric autonomous vehicle with a difference. Ciara Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Star Wars Inspires Mobile Holograms

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 6, 2015) 3D holograms could soon be coming to your mobile phone. Inspired by the famous Princess Leia hologram from Star Wars, a U.S. company is showcasing a prototype display at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona and says it could be used for real-time video calls. Ivor Bennett reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

Game Makers Lured Into Virtual Worlds

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) Some 25,000 people have descended upon San Francisco to show off the latest technologies and video games at the Game Developers Conference. Developers here discuss the future of the industry. Duration: 02:20. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Gas Production Cut on Earthquake Fears

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) The Dutch government has cut production at Europe&apos;s largest gas field in Groningen amid concerns over earthquakes which are damaging local churches. As Amy Pollock reports the decision - largely politically-motivated - could have big economic conseqeunces. Video provided by Reuters
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


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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