It’s a stressful life for bacteria. Bacillus subtilis commonly lives in soil, where it’s under daily attack from heat, acid and salts in the soil. Scientists have been using Diamond to understand how the bacterial cells respond quickly to rapidly changing environments to survive. This research has been published in the journal Science.
Central to this survival mechanism is the stressosome – the "crisis command centre" of the bacterial cell. If a cell senses danger – for example an increase in temperature or acidity – it will generate a warning signal. Commonly several signals will come in at once, and it is the job of the stressosome to integrate these signals and generate a single global response.
The researchers used Diamond to determine the structure of a key subunit of the complex, one that is responsible for triggering the cascade that enables the cells to survive.
"Our work shows that cells respond to signals much like a dimmer on a light switch. Now we'll be building on this to work out how nature controls that dimmer switch. We wouldn't have been able to carry out this work without access to the Diamond synchrotron Light Source which has enabled us to examine the structures of individual stressosome proteins at atomic resolution."
Dr Jon Marles-Wright, Newcastle University
Molecular Architecture of the 'Stressosome,' a Signal Integration and Transduction Hub, Jon Marles-Wright, Tim Grant, Olivier Delumeau, Gijs van Duinen, Susan J. Firbank, Peter J. Lewis, James W. Murray, Joseph A. Newman, Maureen B. Quin, Paul R. Race, Alexis Rohou, Willem Tichelaar, Marin van Heel, and Richard J. Lewis, Science 322, 92 (2008)
3 October 2008
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