Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Delving Into the Molecular Mechanism Behind Deep-Sea Bacteria’s Pressure Tolerance

Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Bookmark and Share
A Japanese research team have identified a structural change that confers pressure-resistant properties on a particular protein found in bacteria.

The Mariana Trench is the deepest feature of the Earth’s surface. The water column there exerts a pressure of more than one thousand times normal atmospheric pressure at sea level, enough pressure to crush an SUV. Yet many organisms thrive in this seemingly inhospitable environment. A Japanese research team has been investigating how deep-sea bacteria adapt to such high-pressure conditions. They have identified a structural change that confers pressure-resistant properties on a particular protein found in bacteria. The findings may one day help guide the design of enzymes for use in high-pressure chemical industrial processes.

In general, pressure, like that caused by a water column thousands of feet deep, deforms proteins. As the proteins change shape, water can penetrate the protein’s interior. Some proteins are better able to resist this incursion of water, but the molecular mechanisms of the pressure resistance aren’t yet well understood.

“Our group is focusing on high-pressure protein crystallography, using 3-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase (IPMDH) as a model protein. The goal is to delve into the principles of the molecular mechanism of the pressure tolerance of proteins by comparing the structures of IPMDHs from organisms that thrive in high-pressure environments and those that are sensitive to high-pressure pressure environments,” explains Nobuhisa Watanabe, a professor at the Synchrotron Radiation Research Center, Nagoya University.

To create the high pressures necessary for their studies, the team uses a diamond anvil cell (DAC), which consists of two opposing diamonds with a gasket compressed between the culets (the small, flat facet at the bottom of the diamonds).

The team’s big discovery so far is that the initial water penetration at the molecular surface of the side opposite to the active site of IPMDH is unique.

“At the site of the penetration, there is a difference of amino acid between IPMDHs from bacteria that thrive in high-pressure environments and those that are sensitive to it. Based on this data, we substituted one amino acid at the site of the IPMDH from pressure-sensitive bacteria and checked its activity under pressure,” says Watanabe. “And as we expected, only this one residue-substituted IPMDH, which has 364 amino acids in total, achieved pressure resistance comparable to the bacteria that thrive in high-pressure environments.”

This means that it may soon be possible to synthesize designer pressure-resistant proteins. The team plans to continue their high-pressure studies of several other proteins to try to discover the physical principles behind pressure resistance mechanisms that enable bacteria to thrive in high-pressure conditions.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

How Bacteria Propagate Antibiotic Resistance at a Molecular Level
Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have utilized crystallography in an attempt to prevent “superbugs” from genetically propagating drug resistance.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Scientific News
A New Way to Look at MOFs
International study challenges prevailing view on how metal organic frameworks store gases.
Major Advance in Crystal Structure Prediction Methods
The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) announces that the results of its 6th blind test of crystal structure prediction methods demonstrate significant advancement in in comparison with previous tests.
Protein Structure Discovery Opens Window on Basic Life Process
Biochemists at Oregon State University have made a fundamental discovery about protein structure that sheds new light on how proteins fold, which is one of the most basic processes of life.
Clearest Ever Images of Enzyme that Plays Key Roles in Aging, Cancer
UCLA-led research on telomerase could lead to new strategies for treating disease
New Approach to Treating Heparin-induced Blood Disorder
A potential treatment for a serious clotting condition that can strike patients who receive heparin to treat or prevent blood clots may lie within reach by elucidating the structure of the protein complex at its root.
Escape Prevention
Studying flu virus structure brings us a step closer to a permanent vaccine.
Structure of Protein at Root of Muscular Disease Decoded
Researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have unlocked the structural details of a protein seen as key to treating a neuromuscular disease.
A Natural Light Switch
MIT scientists identify and map the protein behind a light-sensing mechanism.
First Complete Structural Study Of A Pegylated Protein
Significant data obtained at NUI Galway reports first crystal structure of a protein modified with a single PEG chain.
Cellular Contamination Pathway for Heavy Elements Identified
Berkeley Lab scientists find that an iron-binding protein can transport actinides into cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos