Unique E. coli Protein May Be Not After All A bacterial protein recently thought to be a unique mechanism for utilizing iron may not be after all. Researchers from the University of Georgia, the Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Utah School of Medicine report their findings in the latest issue of the online journal mBio® . The ability to acquire iron from their host is an important factor in the ability of bacteria to establish an infection. The major source of host iron in infections is heme, a component of hemoglobin and disease-causing bacteria have evolved complex mechanisms to acquire the heme and extract the iron. In the case of E. coli bacteria recent research has reported that the bacterial protein YfeX is able to remove iron from heme using a process called dechelation and leave an intact tetrapyrrole.
Half the drugs used today target a single class of proteins - and now scientists have identified an important molecular player critical to the proper workings of those proteins critical to our health. A protein known as Ric-8 plays a vital role, according to new results from a team led by Gregory Tall, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The work was published recently in Science Signaling. What you see, what you smell, how you feel - molecules known as G-protein coupled receptors and their prime targets, G proteins, are key to those and many other processes that are ubiquitous in our bodies. These proteins serve as the targets of drugs used to treat conditions like cancer, diabetes, depression, allergies, and heart disease.
The computer assisted design (CAD) tools that made it possible to fabricate integrated circuits with millions of transistors may soon be coming to the biological sciences. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed CAD-type models and simulations for RNA molecules that make it possible to engineer biological components or "RNA devices" for controlling genetic expression in microbes. This holds enormous potential for microbial-based sustainable production of advanced biofuels, biodegradable plastics, therapeutic drugs and a host of other goods now derived from petrochemicals. "Because biological systems exhibit functional complexity at multiple scales, a big question has been whether effective design tools can be created to increase the sizes and complexities of the microbial systems we engineer to meet specific needs, " says Jay Keasling, director of JBEI and a world authority on synthetic biology and metabolic engineering.
According to data published in Cancer Discovery, the latest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, the risk of inheriting pancreatic cancer may be increased by mutations in the ATM gene. Less than 5% of diagnosed pancreatic cancer victims survive beyond 5 years, which makes pancreatic cancer one of the most deadly cancers, and about 10% of pancreatic cancer victims stem from families with multiple cases of this cancer. Lead researcher Alison Klein, Ph.D., associate professor of oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and director of the National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry stated: "There was significant reason to believe this clustering was due to genetics, but we had not, to this point, been able to find the causative genes that explained the cluster of pancreatic cancer for a majority of these families.
Arrhythmia, a potentially life-threatening disorder whereby the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat causes it to beat too fast, slow or irregularly, affects millions of people worldwide. The rhythm and rate of the heart is regulated by the cardiac conduction system (CCS), a group of specialized cells in the walls of the heart that send electrical signals from the sinoatrial node in the heart's right atrium or upper chamber to the ventricles or lower chambers, causing them to contract and pump blood. So far, there is little knowledge about the biologic and genetic mechanisms that control the CCSs structure and function. However, new research in mice has demonstrated that the altered function of a gene called Tbx3 interferes with the development of the CCS, and causes lethal arrhythmias.