Meningococci Bacteria Use a Small Protein With Big Pathogenic Impact

False colour scanning electron micrograph of meningococci (orange) adherent to human host cells (inexperienced). Credit score: Alexandra Schubert-Unkmeir / College of Wuerzburg

Meningococci are micro organism that may trigger life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a massive influence: The RNA-binding protein ProQ is concerned within the activation of greater than 250 bacterial genes.

ProQ ensures that meningococci can higher restore their DNA if broken and it makes them immune to oxidative stress. Each these components contribute considerably to the micro organism’s pathogenic properties.

This was reported by analysis teams led by the Würzburg scientists Christoph Schoen and Jörg Vogel within the journal Nature Communications.

“We have been shocked that a comparatively small protein can have such a nice affect on bacterial gene regulation,” says Christoph Schoen, professor on the Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany.

ProQ solely consists of about 120 amino acids. By comparability, many different proteins are normally made up of a number of hundred amino acids.

The mini-protein belongs to the group of RNA-binding proteins. RNA molecules play an vital position as regulators in lots of organic processes. They usually carry out their capabilities together with the binding proteins.

ProQ is a key participant on this respect: “In meningococci, the protein interacts with nearly 200 completely different RNA molecules,” says Jörg Vogel. “It binds to structured areas of the RNA and thus stabilises its binding companions.”

The researchers made the invention utilizing fashionable high-throughput processes. These strategies have been developed in Vogel’s group on the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based An infection Analysis (HIRI) in Würzburg. Vogel is director of HIRI and heads the JMU Institute for Molecular An infection Biology.

The scientists have an interest within the processes in micro organism as a result of they hope to seek out new targets for antibacterial brokers. The pathways regulated by RNA and its binding proteins particularly provide a promising area of exercise. “We hope to have the ability to disrupt the binding proteins of their perform with small molecules and therefore weaken the pathogens,” explains Vogel.

For 2 thirds of all RNAs in meningococci, the related binding proteins haven’t but been recognized. This raises questions: Is it attainable that almost all of RNAs doesn’t want proteins to hold out their regulatory perform in bacterial cells? And which processes are literally regulated by RNA-binding proteins?

“That is what we want to discover out – and meningococci are significantly properly fitted to this job due to their comparatively small genome,” says Schoen. “Our purpose is to systematically determine the whole household of RNA-binding proteins in meningococci utilizing established high-throughput strategies.”

Reference: “The minimal meningococcal ProQ protein has an intrinsic capability for structure-based international RNA recognition” by Saskia Bauriedl, Milan Gerovac, Nadja Heidrich, Thorsten Bischler, Lars Barquist, Jörg Vogel and Christoph Schoen, 4 June 2020, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16650-6
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