Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New light shed on important metabolite in bacteria

Date:
August 13, 2012
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Scientists have collected the first precise data ever on the function of a transport protein for formate – an important metabolite in bacteria. The findings could potentially lead to the development of new antibiotic active ingredients.

Formate is a central protein component in mixed-acid fermentation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Scientists from the research groups of Prof. Dr. Susana Andrade and Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle, members of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS, the Centre for Biological Signalling Studies of the University of Freiburg, have collected the first precise data ever on the function of a transport protein for formate -- an important metabolite in bacteria.

Related Articles


The findings could potentially lead to the development of new antibiotic active ingredients, as the research team reports in the scientific journal PNAS.

The microbial intestinal flora of mammals is composed of various microorganisms and species of bacteria. The human intestine is home to several hundred grams of microorganisms, which are particularly essential in processing food. In an environment that is rich in nutrients and carbohydrates but poor in oxygen, many species of bacteria have developed a special form of metabolism: mixed-acid fermentation. The process involves breaking down sugar that enters into the intestine in foods to organic acids like formic acid, acetic acid, and lactic acid and then excreting them.

This provides the bacteria with energy but also leads to a considerable acidification of their environment, benefiting both good intestinal bacteria and pathogenic, i.e. disease causing, species like cholera bacteria and salmonella. Mixed-acid fermentation is missing in the human body. The molecular components of this process in bacteria thus provide a basis for developing new antibiotic active ingredients against the pathogenic species.

Formate is a central protein component in mixed-acid fermentation. Intestinal bacteria possess the formate channel FocA, a special transport protein that transports formate, the negatively charged ion of formic acid, over the cell membrane of the bacteria. In order to learn more about the function of FocA, Andrade introduced this protein into an artificial biological membrane and measured the electric currents of ions as they flowed through the formate channel. In addition to precise data on the transport behavior of FocA, the team succeeded in collecting detailed information on the channel's gating device: When the pH value of the environment is too low, it prevents bacteria from damaging themselves by continuing to export acids.

The Freiburg scientists also discovered that FocA can transport even more different anions: the ions of acetic acid, lactic acid, and pyruvic acid -- precisely the products of mixed-acid fermentation. The behavior of the channel for the various bonds corresponds to the proportions to which they are formed during the metabolism of sugar. The channel FocA thus has a much more central significance for this process than previously assumed. This could make it into an ideal basis for future therapeutic measures for diseases of the human intestinal tract.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Lu, J. Du, N. J. Schwarzer, E. Gerbig-Smentek, O. Einsle, S. L. A. Andrade. The formate channel FocA exports the products of mixed-acid fermentation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204201109

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "New light shed on important metabolite in bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813074011.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2012, August 13). New light shed on important metabolite in bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813074011.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "New light shed on important metabolite in bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813074011.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) — The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) — Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
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