Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

In Battle of the Cells, the best Toxins Win

Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Bookmark and Share
There's an epic battle taking place that's not on the national radar: intercellular competition.

While it's not an Olympic event, new research from UC Santa Barbara demonstrates that this microscopic rivalry can be just as fierce as humans going for the gold.

Christopher Hayes, UCSB associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, along with postdoctoral fellow Sanna Koskiniemi, graduate student James Lamoureux, and others, examined the role certain proteins, called rearrangement hotspots (Rhs), play in intercellular competition in bacteria. The findings appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rhs proteins and related YD-peptide repeat proteins are present in a wide range of bacterial species and other organisms, including human beings, where they help establish communications between neurons in the brain when the visual system is developing. Hayes and his team found that Rhs proteins enable Dickeya dadantii 3937, a phytopathogenic bacterium causing soft rot diseases on many crops, to compete with members of its own kind through touch-dependent killing.

While Rhs have been recognized for more 30 years, their function has been enigmatic. This new research sheds light on the mystery. Rhs proteins possess a central repeat region, characteristically the YD-repeat proteins also found in humans, as well as variable C-terminal sequences, which have toxin activity. C-terminal regions are highly variable between bacterial strains even in the same species, indicating that a wide variety of weapons are deployed.

"Bacteria almost always have a different Rhs toxins," explained Hayes. "No one really knows why, but perhaps the toxins are rapidly evolving, driven by intercellular competition. In essence, these cells are fighting it out with each other. It's like an arms race to see who has the best toxins."

Cellular competition is analogous to that between humans and reflects a scarcity of resources. Like people, bacteria need a place to live and food to eat. "We think these systems are important for bacterial cells to establish a home and defend it against competitors," said Hayes. "In fact, bacteria have many systems for competition. And as we uncover more mechanisms for intercellular competition, we realize this is a fundamental aspect of bacterial biology."

These findings demonstrate that Rhs systems in diverse bacterial species are toxin delivery machines. "We have been able to show that gram-negative (Dickeya dadantii) as well as gram-positive (Bacillus subtilis) bacteria use Rhs proteins to inhibit the growth of neighboring bacteria in a manner that requires cell-to-cell contact," said Koskiniemi, the paper's lead author.

The toxic part of Rhs at the tip (the C-terminal region) is delivered into target cells after cell-to-cell contact. Some toxic tips destroy DNA and others destroy transfer RNA, which is essential for protein synthesis. These toxin activities help the bacteria expressing them to outcompete other members of the same species not carrying an antidote.

This work may help scientists design Rhs-based bacterial probiotics that kill specific pathogens but leave most normal flora unharmed. The research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and by fellowships from the Carl Tryggers and Wenner-Gren Foundations.


Further Information

Join For Free

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 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,500+ 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 TechnologyNetworks.com 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

Transcription Factor Isoforms Implicated in Colon Diseases
UC Riverside study explains how distribution of two forms of a transcription factor in the colon influence risk of disease.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
An E.coli Detector May be in Your Hands Soon
Hand-held device that can be used to detect a variety of pathogens—including foodborne pathogens like E. coli—at all stages in the food supply chain, from fields to restaurants may be available soon.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Fructose Alters Hundreds of Brain Genes
UCLA scientists report that diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reverse the damage.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Study Yields the Key to Effective Personalized Medicine
A team of UCLA bioengineers and surgeons has taken a major step toward making personalized medicine a reality.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Tracking RNA in Live Cells
Technique may open doors to new treatments for many conditions, from cancer to autism.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Cat Stem Cell Therapy Gives Humans Hope
By the time Bob the cat came to the UC Davis veterinary hospital, he had used up most of his nine lives.
Monday, February 08, 2016
Crowdfunding the Fight Against Cancer
From budding social causes to groundbreaking businesses to the next big band, crowdfunding has helped connect countless worthy projects with like-minded people willing to support their efforts, even in small ways. But could crowdfunding help fight cancer?
Monday, February 08, 2016
Toxic Pollutants Found in Fish Across the World's Oceans
Scripps researchers' analysis shows highly variable pollutant concentrations in fish meat.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Key Enzyme in Pierce’s Disease Grapevine Damage Uncovered
UC Davis plant scientists have identified an enzyme that appears to play a key role in the insect-transmitted bacterial infection of grapevines with Pierce’s disease, which annually costs California’s grape and wine industries more than $100 million.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Science Magazine Names CRISPR ‘Breakthrough of the Year’
In its year-end issue, the journal Science chose the CRISPR genome-editing technology invented at UC Berkeley 2015’s Breakthrough of the Year.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Genome Sequencing May Save California's Legendary Sugar Pine
The genome of California’s legendary sugar pine, which naturalist John Muir declared to be “king of the conifers” more than a century ago, has been sequenced by a research team led by UC Davis scientists.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Cellular “ORACLs” to Aid Drug Discovery
New approach for finding therapeutics is inspired by face-recognition software.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
New Virus Disovered, Linked To Hepatitis C
Study is first to reveal entire genetic makeup of human pegivirus 2.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
CRISPR-Cas9 Helps Uncover Genetics of Exotic Organisms
A new study illustrates the ease with which CRISPR-Cas9 can knock out genes in exotic animals to learn how those genes control growth and development.
Friday, December 11, 2015
UC Davis Cracks the Walnut Genome
Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have for the first time sequenced the genome of a commercial walnut variety.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Scientific News
The Rise of 3D Cell Culture and in vitro Model Systems for Drug Discovery and Toxicology
An overview of the current technology and the challenges and benefits over 2D cell culture models plus some of the latest advances relating to human health research.
Grant Supports Project To Develop Simple Test To Screen For Cervical Cancer
UCLA Engineering announces funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Injecting New Life into Old Antibiotics
A new fully synthetic way to make a class of antibiotics called macrolides from simple building blocks is set to open up a new front in the fight against antimicrobial drug resistance.
Insight into Bacterial Resilience and Antibiotic Targets
Variant of CRISPR technology paired with computerized imaging reveals essential gene networks in bacteria.
Advancing Protein Visualization
Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.
Alzheimer’s Protein Serves as Natural Antibiotic
Alzheimer's-associated amyloid plaques may be part of natural process to trap microbes, findings suggest new therapeutic strategies.
Slime Mold Reveals Clues to Immune Cells’ Directional Abilities
Study from UC San Diego identifies a protein involved in the directional ability of a slime mold.
How Do You Kill A Malaria Parasite?
Drexel University scientists have discovered an unusual mechanism for how two new antimalarial drugs operate: They give the parasite’s skin a boost in cholesterol, making it unable to traverse the narrow labyrinths of the human bloodstream. The drugs also seem to trick the parasite into reproducing prematurely.
Illuminating Hidden Gene Regulators
New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters.
Supressing Intenstinal Analphylaxis in Peanut Allergy
Study from National Jewish Health shows that blockade of histamine receptors suppresses intestinal anaphylaxis in peanut allergy.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!