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.

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 July 25, 2014 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) 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