How bacteria beat the blues

October 8th, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Oct 8 (ANI): In a remarkable discovery, scientists have for the first time unravelled bacteria’’s stress buster a “co-ordination centre that directs a bacteria’’s defence systems to fight off external threats and stresses.

The team of British and Australian researchers has shown how the centre alerts the bacteria to danger and prompts it to create proteins to negate the threat, reports ABC Online.

According to co-author Associate Professor Peter Lewis, in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at University of Newcastle, its not a single receptor system, but a network of sensors connected to a signalling hub, which they named “stressosome” that controls how bacteria react to stress.

The stressosome triggers a “global response” to the threat, creating an army of new proteins to counterattack the threat or stress.

The study may offer new insights into the mechanisms at work in some of the world’’s oldest microorganisms and also help in the development of anti-infective therapies.

The researchers made use of a cryo-electron microscope to examine the common Bacillus subtilis - a bacteria used in biological nappy cleaners. The microscope, according to Lewis gave an accurate picture of the bacteria’’s structure because it freezes samples quickly, preventing distorting ice crystals forming.

And the team found that the stressosomes regulated the cell’’s response to stress.

“Rather than being on or off, [the stressosome] is able to modulate the signal in proportion to the stressful situation,” he said.

Lewis said that by making the bacteria “drink a beer” they were able to induce stress and then track the impact on the cell.

They found the stressosomes held together and were still able to respond to any new stress.

The study is published in the latest edition of Science. (ANI)

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