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Scientists want to use the incredible bacteria “homing missile”



Scientists want to use the incredible bacteria

An illustration of the tail element and its altruistic behavior by the author Antara, the daughter of Vivek Mutalik. Credit: Antara Mutalik

Imagine that an arrow is lethal when fired at an enemy, but harmless if it falls on your friend. If they are real, then it is easy to see how these will bring amazing advantages in war. However, things like these arrows do exist, and they are used in warfare in different proportions.

These weapons are called tailocins, and reality is almost stranger than fiction.

Vivek Mutalik, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), explains: “Tylomycin is an extremely powerful protein nanomachine made by bacteria.” “They look like bacteriophages. , But there is no capsid, and the capsid is the̵

7;head’ of the bacteriophage that contains the viral DNA and replication mechanism. Therefore, they are like a pogo pin that can penetrate and fix the target cell, and then seem to pierce the cell membrane all the time , A hole is formed in the cytoplasm, so the cell loses ions and contents and collapses.”

All kinds of bacteria can produce tail toxins, and it seems to be able to produce them under stressful conditions. Because tailocins are only lethal to certain strains (in fact so specific that they have earned the nickname “bacterial self-guided missiles”), tailocins appear to be tools used by bacteria to compete with their competitors. Because of their similarity to bacteriophages, scientists believe that this tailin is produced by DNA originally inserted into the bacterial genome during viral infection (the virus provides instructions for the host to perform more of its own role), and will follow In the process of evolution, the bacteria discarded their contents. Bacteriophage DNA is invalid, but retains parts that can be chosen for one’s own benefit.

However, unlike most abilities through evolutionary selection, tail proteins cannot save individuals. According to Mutalik, if bacteria produce tail toxins, they will be killed, just like being infected by a real phage virus. This is because the sharp nanomachine ejects through the membrane and leaves the production cell, just like a replicated virus particle. However, once released, these tail proteins only target certain strains, thereby preserving other cells of the host lineage.

Mutalik said: “They benefit relatives, but individuals are sacrificed. This is a selfless act. But we don’t yet understand how this phenomenon occurs in nature.” Scientists also don’t know the needle function of the tail needle. how is it.

Because of the many possible applications, these topics and the entire tailocins have become a hot research area. Mutalik and his colleagues in the field of biological sciences at Berkeley Labs and collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley are all interested in using tailin to better study the microbiota. Other people are keen to use tailin as an alternative to traditional antibiotics-they indiscriminately wipe out the beneficial strains, while at the same time eliminating the beneficial strains, and become increasingly ineffective due to the evolution of drug resistance.

In a recent paper, the Berkeley Collaborative Group has explored the genetic basis and physical mechanisms that control how urophyllin attacks specific strains, and studied the genetic similarities and differences between urophyllin producers and their target strains.

After examining 12 strains of soil bacteria that are known to use tailomycin, biologists found evidence that differences in lipopolysaccharides (molecules based on fat and sugar) attached to the outer membrane can determine whether the strains are specifically tailed Mycin serves as the target.

“The bacteria we study live in challenging, resource-poor environments, so we are curious to know how they might use tailin to fight for survival,” said Adam Arkin, co-lead author and senior scientist in Biological Sciences. )Say. The area and technology co-manager (ENIGMA) scientific focus area of ​​ecosystems and networks combined with gene and molecular assembly. Arkin pointed out that although scientists can easily induce bacteria to produce tailin in the laboratory (and can easily insert genes into cultivable strains for large-scale production, it will be convenient if we want to make tailin into medicine), but There are still many unresolved questions about how bacteria deploy tailomycin in their natural environment, and how and why to target specific strains with assassin precision.

“Once we understand the targeting mechanism, we can start using these tail proteins,” Arkin added. “The potential of medicine is obviously huge, but it is also incredible for the scientific field we are engaged in. It is studying how environmental microbes interact and the role of these interactions in important ecological processes, such as carbon. Sequestration and nitrogen processing.”

Currently, it is difficult to figure out what each microbe in a community is doing, because it is not easy for scientists to increase and decrease strains and observe the results. These experiments can be easily completed with appropriately controlled tail hormone.

Mutalik, Arkin, and colleagues are also conducting follow-up studies to reveal the mechanism of uroquinone. They plan to use Berkeley Lab’s advanced imaging equipment to take an atomic snapshot of the entire process, from the moment the tail protein has been bound to the target cell until the cell deflates. Essentially, they will shoot microscopic movies.


Classification of hidden arsenals in nature: viruses that infect bacteria


More information:
Sean Carim and others, “Systematic Discovery of Pseudomonas Genetic Factors Involving Tailin Sensitivity”, ISME Magazine (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41396-021-00921-1

Courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory



Citation: The incredible bacterial “homing missile” that scientists want to use (April 7, 2021) is from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-incredible-bacterial-homing-missiles-scientists. html retrieved April 7, 2021.

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