24-Jul-2020 - Universität Bayreuth

New perspectives for antibiotics research

Groundbreaking study on protein biosynthesis in bacteria

Researchers of the University of Bayreuth and the Columbia University in New York reported groundbreaking findings on protein biosynthesis in bacteria in the journal "iScience". The small protein NusG links the two large molecular machines that work together during gene expression, which is the production of bacterial proteins based on genetic information: RNA polymerase and the ribosome. The molecular bridge enables the bacterial cell to synchronize perfectly the successive stages of gene expression, i.e. transcription and translation. Thus, this connection could be an excellent target for future antibiotic drugs.

In all living organisms, gene expression is a two-stage process: First, the genetic information stored in the DNA is used as template to synthesize ribonucleic acids, so-called messenger RNAs (mRNAs). By this, genetic information is converted into a form that can be directly used by the cell. RNA polymerase is responsible for this process, which is called transcription. During the process of translation the messenger-RNAs, in turn, are the molecular blueprints that are read by the ribosome and used for the production of corresponding proteins. In humans and animals, these two stages of gene expression are separated both spatially and biochemically. In a bacterial cell, in contrast, they are coupled as scientists have known for more than 50 years.

Ten years ago, a research group at the University of Bayreuth led by Prof. Dr. Paul Rösch reported in "Science” first indications that this coupling might actually be mediated by the protein NusG. Yet only now has the research group led by Dr. Stefan H. Knauer, in cooperation with partners at Columbia University, New York, succeeded in providing the first direct structural evidence. NusG consists of two flexibly connected domains: an amino-terminal domain (NTD) and a carboxy-terminal domain (CTD). The CTD binds to the ribosome, the NTD to RNA polymerase. Thus, NusG forms a flexible bridge between the central machines of gene expression, similar to the movable coupling between railway wagons. This connection causes transcription and translation to be synchronised. Key experiments clearly showing this link were performed with high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and which were carried out at the North Bavarian Centre for High-Resolution NMR Spectroscopy at the University of Bayreuth.

"This opens up highly interesting perspectives for the development of new antibiotic agents. If we can disrupt this molecular bridge, bacterial protein synthesis and thus also reproduction of bacteria will be seriously impaired – most importantly, without affecting the human organism. We are targeting this approach in a current research project, and we have already achieved first promising results," says Dr. Stefan Knauer. "We were able to demonstrate the central role of NusG in bacterial protein biosynthesis by combining structural biology, biochemical, and molecular biology methods. We will continue this interdisciplinary approach in the search for efficient antibiotic substances", adds co-author Philipp Zuber M.Sc., who is doing his PhD thesis at the University of Bayreuth, where he also completed the elite study programme "Macromolecular Science" within the Elite Network of Bavaria.

Facts, background information, dossiers

  • protein biosynthesis
  • bacteria
  • gene expression
  • transcription
  • antibiotics

More about Uni Bayreuth

  • News

    New spectroscopic insights into hydrogen bonds

    Hydrogen bonds are of fundamental interest in materials science, physics and chemistry. An international team including scientists from the University of Bayreuth has now achieved surprising insights into the formation of hydrogen bonds using a novel method that enables the application of N ... more

    New method for the technological use of 2D nanomaterials

    Nanosheets are finely structured two-dimensional materials and have great potential for innovation. They are fixed on top of each other in layered crystals, and must first be separated from each other so that they can be used, for example, to filter gas mixtures or for efficient gas barrier ... more

    Nanoplastic particles love company

    Polyethylene, a plastic that is both cheap and easy to process, accounts for nearly one-third of the world’s plastic waste. An interdisciplinary team from the University of Bayreuth has investigated the progressive degradation of polyethylene in the environment for the first time. Although ... more

  • q&more articles

    Authentic food

    Authentic food is growing in popularity with consumers. In a heavily industrialized market, a regional, single-source and/or specially manufactured product is increasingly becoming a guarantor of greater value. In the premium segment in particular, economically motivated “food fraud” can re ... more

    More than honey?

    For thousands of years, the word “honey” has been synonymous with an all-natural, healthy food. Unsurprisingly, honey has also enjoyed unwavering popularity with consumers – and especially in times when organic food and a healthy lifestyle are more in vogue than ever before. more

    What Are We Eating?

    What ends up on our plates? We used to think we knew – until we were disabused of this notion in early 2013. Instead of beef, there had been large-scale use of processed horsemeat, especially in frozen products and mincemeat. Although this posed no hazard to health, the damage was enormous, ... more

  • Authors

    Dr. Christopher Igel

    completed his undergraduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Bayreuth from 2009 to 2013. He completed his bachelor’s dissertation entitled “Honey Analysis Using NMR” at the BIOmac research centre under the tutelage of Prof. Dr. Schwarzinger. more

    Wolfrat Bachert

    commenced his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at TU Dresden before moving to the University of Bayreuth in 2009 to study biology. In 2013, he completed his bachelor dissertation in the Dept. of Biochemistry under the tutelage of Prof. Dr. Wulf Blankenfeldt on the subject of ... more

    Prof. Dr. Stephan Clemens

    Stephan Clemens, Jg. 1963, studied biology in Münster and Brighton, then acquired his doctorate in Münster. Since his postdoc-stay at the University of California San Diego, his scientific interest has been mainly targeted at metal homoeostasis in plants. He uses the models Arabidopsis thal ... more

More about Columbia University

q&more – the networking platform for quality excellence in lab and process

The q&more concept is to increase the visibility of recent research and innovative solutions, and support the exchange of knowledge. In the broad spectrum of subjects covered, the focus is on achieving maximum quality in highly innovative sectors. As a modern knowledge platform, q&more offers market participants one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. Cutting-edge research is presented by authors of international repute. Attractively presented in a high-quality context, and published in German and English, the original articles introduce new concepts and highlight unconventional solution strategies.

> more about q&more

q&more is supported by: