Journal: PLOS Biology
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Cause for alarmone
© SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty
When facing harsh environmental conditions, such as those they experience when colonizing a host, bacteria produce a signalling molecule. This molecule limits protein production in general but allows for the expression of proteins needed for stress resistance.
The finding, from a team co-led by scientists at Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University, could lead to new therapeutic strategies for combatting pathogenic bacteria.
The researchers detail the ways in which an ‘alarmone’ molecule called (p)ppGpp, which accumulates in bacteria as an adaptation to stressful stimuli, hinders the initiation of protein synthesis, but in a way that depends on the particular RNA transcript entering the protein-making machinery.
They show how this regulatory mechanism allows the bacteria to manufacture a subset of essential proteins while otherwise shutting down protein production until conditions become more favourable.
- PLoS Biology 18, e3000593 (2020). doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000593