Nav: Home

Observing the cell's protein factories during self-assembly

June 13, 2018

Berlin-based researchers have produced snapshots of the 'protein factories' of the cell. Their findings could set us on the path towards a new class of antibiotics. The study - a basic science study conducted by researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics - has been published in Molecular Cell*.

Ribosomes are the 'protein factories' of the cell and are composed of two units: a larger 50S subunit, and a smaller 30S subunit. The larger 50S subunit in turn comprises 33 different proteins and 2 ribonucleic acid molecules. The aim of the study was to obtain detailed information about the way in which these numerous different molecules form 50S subunits in bacteria. In a process known as 'in vitro reconstitution', the individual components were first purified and then mixed together in the laboratory. The researchers then observed how the 50S subunit assembled from this mixture. Using 3D cryo-electron microscopy, a technology whose developers received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, they were able to produce high-resolution snapshots of individual stages of the 50S subunit's assembly and maturation. This allowed them to identify, on a molecular level, the individual steps involved in its development.

Explaining the significance of this study, Dr. Rainer Nikolay, of Charité's Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, comments: "These results do not simply provide us with important insights into one of the essential processes taking part inside the cell. They also provide us with information on potential targets for new antibacterial drugs." These could potentially inhibit ribosome assembly, thereby paralyzing the bacterium's ability to synthesize proteins; these drugs could therefore be used to inhibit all bacterial growth.

Dr. Nikolay plans to conduct additional research to test whether the process of 50S subunit assembly inside the living cell is the same as that observed outside the cell. He explains: "Much of the information available in the literature suggests that 50S assembly in vivo follows a very similar course to that observed in vitro. To test this assumption, we are currently developing methods capable of analyzing the structure of 50S ribosomal subunit precursors, which we will obtain directly from cells."
-end-
*Nikolay R, Hilal T, Qin B, Mielke T, Bürger J, Loerke J, Textoris-Taube K, Nierhaus KH, Spahn CMT. Structural visualization of the formation and activation of the 50S ribosomal subunit during in vitro reconstitution. Molecular Cell 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.05.003.

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Related Molecular Genetics Articles:

Improve evolution education by teaching genetics first
Evolution is a difficult concept for many students at all levels, however, a study publishing on May 23 in the open access journal PLOS Biology has demonstrated a simple cost-free way to significantly improve students' understanding of evolution at the secondary level: teach genetics before you teach them evolution.
Study unravels the genetics of childhood 'overgrowth'
Researchers have undertaken the world's largest genetic study of childhood overgrowth syndromes -- providing new insights into their causes, and new recommendations for genetic testing.
Could genetics influence what we like to eat?
Gene variants could affect food preferences in healthy people, according to a new study.
Reverse genetics for rotavirus
Osaka University scientists generate a new plasmid-based reverse genetics system for rotaviruses.
The genetics behind being Not Like Daddy
A common strategy to create high-yielding plants is hybrid breeding.
Understanding the genetics of human height
A large-scale international study involving more than 300 researchers, published today in Nature, heralds the discovery of 83 genetic variations controlling human height.
Association for molecular pathology establishes new standard for clinical utility of molecular Dx
The Association for Molecular Pathology, the premier global, non-profit organization serving molecular diagnostic professionals, today announced a new report that addresses the challenges in defining the clinical utility of molecular diagnostics for inherited diseases and cancer.
Your best diet might depend on your genetics
If you've ever seen a friend have good results from a diet but then not been able to match those results yourself, you may not be surprised by new findings in mice that show that diet response is highly individualized.
Public understanding of genetics can reduce stereotypes
Two University of Kansas researchers found that genetic attributions strongly shape perceptions of whether a person's sexual orientation could change and likely made same-sex marriage and other policies more widely acceptable in the past decade.
ASHG virtual meeting: Genetics in Your Clinic
Genetics in Your Clinic: What You Can and Should Do Now, a free event intended for a global audience of primary care providers and other health care professionals, will feature presentations from human genetics experts on currently available genetic technologies and their limitations; personal/family history information indicating a need for genetic testing; and how to interpret results effectively and when to refer.

Related Molecular Genetics Reading:

Genetics: Analysis and Principles
by Robert J. Brooker Professor Dr. (Author)

Human Molecular Genetics, Fourth Edition
by Tom Strachan (Author), Andrew Read (Author)

Molecular Biology of the Gene (7th Edition)
by James D. Watson (Author), Tania A. Baker (Author), Stephen P. Bell (Author), Alexander Gann (Author), Michael Levine (Author), Richard Losick (Author)

Genetics: Analysis and Principles
by Robert J. Brooker Professor Dr. (Author)

Genetics: From Genes to Genomes, 5th edition
by Leland H. Hartwell (Author), Michael L. Goldberg (Author), Janice A. Fischer (Author), Leroy Hood (Author), Charles F. Aquadro (Author)

Genetics: Analysis of Genes and Genomes
by Daniel L. Hartl (Author), Bruce Cochrane (Author)

Molecular Biology: Principles of Genome Function
by Nancy Craig (Author), Rachel Green (Author), Carol Greider (Author), Gisela Storz (Author), Cynthia Wolberger (Author), Orna Cohen-Fix (Author)

Molecular Genetics of Bacteria, 4th Edition
by Larry Snyder (Author), Joseph E. Peters (Author), Tina M. Henkin (Author), Wendy Champness (Author)

BRS Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics (Board Review Series)
by Michael Lieberman PhD (Author), Rick Ricer MD (Author)

Precision Medicine, CRISPR, and Genome Engineering: Moving from Association to Biology and Therapeutics (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology)
by Stephen H. Tsang (Editor), George M. Church (Editor)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Hacking The Law
We have a vision of justice as blind, impartial, and fair — but in reality, the law often fails those who need it most. This hour, TED speakers explore radical ways to change the legal system. Guests include lawyer and social justice advocate Robin Steinberg, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise, political activist Brett Hennig, and lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#496 Anti-Intellectualism: Down With the Scientist!
This week we get to the bottom of anti-intellectualism. We'll be speaking with David Robson, senior journalist at BBC Future, about misology -- the hatred of reason and argument -- and how it may be connected to distrust of intellectuals. Then we'll speak with Bruno Takahashi, associate professor of environmental journalism and communication at Michigan State University, about how the way we consume media affects our scientific knowledge and how we feel about scientists and the press.