Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Newly Discovered Molecular, Spy, Helps Bacteria in Producing Stable Proteins

While bacteria are used in manufacture proteins for medicine and industry, the bugs often disrupt its production of proteins. Due to disruption, proteins fall apart, get cut up inside the bacteria, get unfolded and tangled which results in unstable proteins that is not good for maintaining their functions.

A research team led by James Bardwell, who is a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and of biological chemistry, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, at the University of Michigan, discovered a molecular helper to assist bacteria in making larger quantities of stable and functional proteins. During the first part of the research, the team designed biosensors, which directly link protein stability to the antibiotic resistant of bacteria, bugs. When a poor functional protein was inserted into the middle of the biosensors in the bacterium, the antibiotics resist bugs. When the protein is stabilized that resistance of bug, which gets disrupted, is restored.

The research team then experimented this unstable protein with E. Coli. They inserted this protein in E. Coli, which forced the bacteria to either adapt by improving protein stability or die when exposed to antibiotics. The scientists then increased antibiotic resistance and protein stability, which helped them isolate the bacteria that produced up to 700 times more of the previously unstable protein.

While looking back to see why these bacteria were so much better at producing proteins, the scientists found that the cradle-shaped molecular called Spy assists in protein refolding and protects unstable proteins from being cut up or colliding with other proteins. With a molecular assistant, the bacteria will produce better and stable proteins with protection provided by Spy.

Posted by Arpita Patel


  1. Having these customizable protein machines essentially could be extremely beneficial to the medial world. Many protein deficiencies cause serious problems in the human body. If a specific protein can be produced to help treat a disease, mass production of this protein could be essential to its success as an efficient medication.

    Posted by Marlena Grasso

  2. This is a great finding. Like the previous post stated, it could be applied to many illnesses that are caused by protein deficiencies. In this study protein folding was assisted by Spy, it will be interesting to see it applied to other bacteria to see if there is either more adaptation or bacterial death in response to this foreign molecule.

    Posted by: Nelson Milano

  3. Yes, this would be very beneficial for many protein deficiencies that cause problems for our bodies. It would have major impact on improving and treating diseases that are caused by protein deficiency.

    Posted by: Arpita Patel