PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Rice study identifies protein responsible for gas vesicle clustering in bacteria

Finding could enable new synthetic biology applications

Rice study identifies protein responsible for gas vesicle clustering in bacteria
2024-03-29
(Press-News.org) HOUSTON – (March 29, 2024) – Gas vesicles are hollow structures made of protein found in the cells of certain microorganisms, and researchers at Rice University believe they can be programmed for use in biomedical applications.

“Inside cells, gas vesicles are packed in a beautiful honeycomb pattern. How this pattern is formed has never been thoroughly understood. We are presenting the first identification of a protein that can regulate this patterning, and we believe this will be a milestone in molecular microbiology,” said George Lu, assistant professor of bioengineering and a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas scholar.

Lu and colleagues have published their findings in a paper published in Nature Microbiology. The lead author is Zongru Li, a fourth-year bioengineering doctoral student in Lu’s Laboratory for Synthetic Macromolecular Assemblies.

“Gas vesicles are cylindrical tubes closed by conical end caps,” Li said. “They provide buoyancy within the cells of their native hosts.”

The vesicles are found naturally in five phyla of bacteria and two groups of the archaea (single-cell organisms). Most are restricted to planktonic microorganisms often found in fresh-water ponds. The recent engineering of vesicles has led to several applications, including reporter gene imaging, acoustic control and payload delivery.

Co-author Yifan Dai, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis, said they were drawn to the research with the question of why the vesicles can form in the honeycomb pattern.

With help from his WashU colleague Alex Holehouse and colleagues from Duke University, Ashutosh Chilkoti and Lingchong You, the team of researchers found that this pattern is the most efficient use of space and the cluster form plays a part in how it functions. Most notably, these protein clusters formed in subsaturated solution, a previously identified new form of biological structure, and that drives the organization of these vesicles. Bottom line, they found the function behind this mysterious new form.

“These teams led by Lu lab found that a unique form of protein clusters exclusively assembled in subsaturated solution drives the clustering behaviors,” said Dai. This adds to the line of evidence on how phase transition affects cellular organization and cellular functions, he added.

Lu and his team, using genetic, biochemical and imaging approaches, are exploring the protein nanostructures. Gas vesicles stabilize the air bubbles inside the bacterial cytosol ⎯ the fluids inside the cells ⎯ and provide a liquid-gas interface which can be used for ultrasound or MRI contrast.

“In our lab, we are leveraging the power of synthetic biology to expand the applications of these protein nanostructures,” Li said. “By engineering genes and cells, we aim to build gas vesicles that perform even more efficiently in biotechnological and biomedical applications.”

Li earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Rochester in 2018 and his M.S. in biotechnology from Northwestern University in 2020.

Co-authors of the paper are Andrew Anderson, Manuel Iburg, Qionghua Shen, postdoctoral researchers in BIOE at Rice; Richard Lin ’23 BIOE, sustainable solutions and innovation analyst, NRG; Brandon Zimmer ’23 BIOE; Matthew Meyer, Rice electron microscopy research scientist; Yifan Dai and Alex Holehouse, assistant professors of biomedical engineering at WashU; Lingchong You, James L. Meriam Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke; Ashutosh Chilkoti, the Alan L. Kaganov Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke; and Emery Usher, postdoctoral researcher in biochemistry and molecular biology at WashU.

The research was supported by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Institutes of Health (R00 EB024600, R21 EB033607), the Welch Foundation, G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, Hearing Health Foundation, John S. Dunn Foundation, German Research Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering at Rice and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-20-1-0241).

⎯ by Patrick Kurp, Science Writer, George R. Brown School of Engineering

-30-

This press release can be found online at news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Peer-reviewed paper:

“Phase transition of GvpU regulates gas vesicle clustering in bacteria” | Nature Microbiology | DOI: 10.1038/s41564-024-01648-3

Authors: Zongru Li, Qionghua Shen, Emery Usher, Andrew Anderson, Manuel Iburg, Richard Lin, Brandon Zimmer, Matthew Meyer, Alex Holehouse, Lingchong You, Ashutosh Chilkoti, Yifan Dai and George Lu

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-024-01648-3

Image downloads:

https://news-network.rice.edu/news/files/2024/03/Lu-et-al-img1-ed8bc22cc94ecbf2.jpg
CAPTION: Gas vesicles inside a microorganism. (Image courtesy of the Lu lab/Rice University)

https://news-network.rice.edu/news/files/2024/03/img-7f957c33dee15e01.jpg
CAPTION: Simulated configuration of the protein structure. (Image courtesy of the Lu lab/Rice University)

https://news-network.rice.edu/news/files/2024/03/00_Lu_img1-4d7124104628632a.jpg
CAPTION: Zongru Li (left) and George Lu (Photo by Anna Stafford/Rice University)

https://news-network.rice.edu/news/files/2024/03/IMG_1691-b3b08dc64380daea.jpeg
CAPTION: Zongru Li (left) and George Lu (Photo by Anna Stafford/Rice University)

About Rice:

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of architecture, business, continuing studies, engineering, humanities, music, natural sciences and social sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 4,574 undergraduates and 3,982 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction, No. 2 for best-run colleges and No. 12 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

 

END

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Rice study identifies protein responsible for gas vesicle clustering in bacteria Rice study identifies protein responsible for gas vesicle clustering in bacteria 2

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

AADOCR announces recipients of the 2024 Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research Application (SCADA)

2024-03-29
Alexandria, VA – The American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) has named the recipients of the 2024 Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research Application (SCADA). The recipients were recognized during the Opening Ceremonies of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the AADOCR, which was held in conjunction with the 102nd General Session of the International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research and the 48th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, on March 13-16, 2024 in New Orleans, LA. The winners are: CLINICAL RESEARCH & PUBLIC HEALTH CATEGORY 1st ...

Veterans help provide greater insight into Klinefelter and Jacobs syndromes

2024-03-29
AURORA, Colo. (March 29,  2024) –Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and collaborators across the country have conducted the largest and most diverse study of men with extra X or Y chromosomes in the US using a large dataset of military veterans. The results could lead to better diagnoses of these underrecognized conditions and earlier treatment of associated diseases. The study was published today in JAMA Network Open. “One in 400 males have an additional X or Y chromosome, however 86 percent of these individuals are not diagnosed,” said ...

Three renowned Argonne scientists accept joint appointments at the University of Houston

Three renowned Argonne scientists accept joint appointments at the University of Houston
2024-03-29
HOUSTON, March 29, 2024 – Three top researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have accepted joint appointments in various capacities at the University of Houston. These appointments are part of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) Argonne signed recently with the Greater Houston Partnership. The MoU creates greater collaboration across academia, industry, private investors and government to accelerate and scale decarbonization efforts in the region, with the goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, according to an Argonne press release. “This strategic collaboration leverages the combined strengths ...

High-resolution images reveal similarities in protein structures between Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome

2024-03-29
INDIANAPOLIS – More than 90% of people with Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal disorder in humans and the most frequent genetic cause of intellectual disability, are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by ages 55-60. A new study recently published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology uses leading-edge cryo-electron microscopy imaging technology to determine whether differences exist between the protein structures in those with Alzheimer’s disease and those with both Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome. “Just like in Alzheimer’s disease, the neuropathological phenotype in those with ...

How blocking a neural receptor responsible for addiction could reduce alcohol use

2024-03-29
LA JOLLA, CA—Scripps Research scientists have found that LY2444296—a compound that selectively blocks the kappa opioid receptor (KOP)—may reduce drinking in cases of alcohol dependence in animal studies. The findings, which were published March 9, 2024, in Scientific Reports, could eventually inform new treatment options for people who experience alcohol use disorder (AUD). “Compounds designed to selectively block the KOP are very promising because this receptor is involved in a lot of mental illnesses, such as ...

Researchers discover skin biomarkers in infants that predict early development of food allergies

2024-03-29
DENVER — (MARCH 29, 2024) Food allergies occur often in childhood and can be severe or even fatal. Researchers at National Jewish Health are working to develop a program to prevent food allergies and have now identified early predictors of the condition.         During a recent study just published online in the March 2024 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, skin tape strips were collected from the forearms of newborns at the age of two months, an age before there ...

Researchers reveal evolutionary path of important proteins

Researchers reveal evolutionary path of important proteins
2024-03-29
New research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison decodes the evolutionary pathway of regulatory proteins, the molecules that help control gene expression. The findings from the Raman Lab in the Department of Biochemistry recently published their findings in the journal Cell Systems. Here’s a rundown on what they discovered: Proteins acquire and lose functions through evolutionary processes as cells adapt to changes in their environment over time. Protein evolution is well studied in certain enzymes but is understudied in regulatory proteins, which help control gene expression. A new, ...

Insilico Medicine presents progress of 5 novel AI cancer drugs at AACR

2024-03-29
Insilico Medicine (“Insilico”), a clinical-stage generative artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, today announced that five preclinical programs have been accepted as poster presentations in the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2024 (AACR 2024) happening April 5-10 in San Diego. Abstracts are now available on the AACR website. Insilico’s drug discovery efforts are driven by its validated and commercially viable AI drug discovery platform, Pharma.AI, ...

Study finds benefits in prescribing alcohol use disorder medications upon discharge from alcohol-related hospitalizations

2024-03-29
BOSTON – For adults hospitalized for alcohol-related reasons, receiving a prescription for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) medication at the time of discharge may lower their risk of return to hospital within 30 days of discharge, including emergency room visits and readmissions. That’s according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Pittsburgh. For the study, the investigators identified 9,834 alcohol-related hospitalizations among 6,794 Medicare Part D beneficiaries across the United States in 2016. Only 2.0% of hospitalizations involved filled ...

USC Schaeffer Center study finds few hospitals promoting potentially predatory medical payment products

2024-03-29
Fifty million Americans are on a financing plan to pay off medical or dental bills, with one-quarter of those bearing some interest. Increasingly, medical payment products (MPPs) – which include credit cards and loans administered by hospitals, physician practices, or third-party companies – have come under scrutiny by the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Treasury.  The agencies’ concern is that the products may be sidestepping a broad range of patient and consumer protections and inflating ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

UK/Portuguese study strongly suggests antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are being passed from cats and dogs to their owners

Researchers study effects of solvation and ion valency on metallopolymers

Physicists solve puzzle about ancient galaxy found by Webb telescope

Clear guidelines needed for synthetic data to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness study says

Report finds significant gender and racial inequities in the educational measurement profession

University of Houston and Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University forge strategic energy alliance

Rice team demonstrates miniature brain stimulator in humans

Jennifer Stinson receives prestigious Barer-Flood Prize in health services research

First insights into the genetic bottleneck characterizing early sheep husbandry in the Neolithic period

Theories that explain the crisis in democracy are inadequate for Latin America, experts say

Starving cells hijack protein transport stations

Where have all the right whales gone?

Researchers find no link between COVID-19 virus and development of asthma in children

Cell’s ‘garbage disposal’ may have another role: helping neurons near skin sense the environment

Study reveals potential to reverse lung fibrosis using the body’s own healing technique

International team co-led by a BSC researcher discovers more than 50 new deep-sea species in one of the most unexplored areas of the planet

Cleveland Innovation District partners exceeding many targets set by state and JobsOhio

A third of women experience migraines associated with menstruation, most commonly when premenopausal

MD Anderson Research Highlights for April 12, 2024

Soft Robotics appoints new Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Barbara Mazzolai, PhD

Wiley releases Mass Spectra of Designer Drugs 2024 to accelerate forensics analysis of fentanyls, cannabinoids, and more

Freestanding emergency departments are popular, but do they function as intended?

University of Cincinnati experts present at national neurology conference

Bonobos are more aggressive than previously thought

How seaweed became multicellular

Melanomas resist drugs by ‘breaking’ genes

Africa’s iconic flamingos threatened by rising lake levels, study shows

Vaccination timeliness among US children ages 0-19 months

Changes in permanent contraception procedures among young adults following the Dobbs decision

Semaglutide vs endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty for weight loss

[Press-News.org] Rice study identifies protein responsible for gas vesicle clustering in bacteria
Finding could enable new synthetic biology applications