YbeY is essential for fitness and virulence of V. cholerae, keeps RNA household in order

Jun 05, 2014

YbeY is a conserved protein that is present in most bacteria. A study published on June 5th in PLOS Pathogens examines the function of YbeY in the cholera bacterium and reveals critical roles in RNA metabolism in this and other pathogenic bacteria.

Graham Walker, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and colleagues previously studied E. coli YbeY and found that it acts as an "RNase"—a protein that deliberately and specifically cuts RNA molecules and thereby regulates their availability and activity. Turning to Vibrio cholerae to examine the role of YbeY in disease-causing pathogens, they now report that YbeY is essential in this pathogen, critical for cell fitness and general stress tolerance, and involved in the regulation of different classes of RNA targets.

Like in higher organisms, genetic information contained in the DNA of bacteria gets "transcribed" into RNA molecules. Some of these RNAs serve as templates for proteins, others form part of the bacterial protein factories (so-called ribosomes), and yet another group consists of small regulatory RNAs that modulate cellular functions of the bacteria and their hosts. The researchers demonstrate that YbeY is needed in generating the components for functional ribosomes, for their assembly, and for ribosome quality control—eliminating defective before they turn out faulty products.

In addition, they find that YbeY targets virulence-associated small regulatory RNAs. Consistent with these functions, reducing the amount of YbeY makes V. cholerae less harmful (or virulent) in a mouse cholera model. The researchers also show that YbeY belongs to a set of conserved RNases that are essential in many different pathogens, including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

They conclude that "although functionally associated with a well-established antibiotic target, the ribosome, YbeY is so far unexploited as a drug target and its use . . . might lead to the discovery of completely novel antibiotic scaffolds" and suggest that "considering YbeY's high level of conservation, its essential nature in many pathogens, and its ability to sensitize by disrupting and virulence, a YbeY-specific antibiotic could have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity."

Explore further: Protein 'rescues' stuck cellular factories

More information: Vercruysse M, Köhrer C, Davies BW, Arnold MFF, Mekalanos JJ, et al. (2014) The Highly Conserved Bacterial RNase YbeY Is Essential in Vibrio cholerae, Playing a Critical Role in Virulence, Stress Regulation, and RNA Processing. PLoS Pathog 10(6): e1004175. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004175

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protein 'rescues' stuck cellular factories

Mar 19, 2014

Using a powerful data-crunching technique, Johns Hopkins researchers have sorted out how a protein keeps defective genetic material from gumming up the cellular works. The protein, Dom34, appears to "rescue" protein-making ...

Bacterial gene 'therapy' to combat cholera

Jul 09, 2012

Cholera is an extremely virulent intestinal infection caused by ingestion of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae). EU researchers elucidated the molecular mechanisms behind expression of virulence genes ...

Detour leads to antibiotic resistance

Mar 28, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University researchers have used cryo-electron microscopic imaging to characterize the structural alterations in the bacterial ribosome that are required for induction of resistance to the ...

Recommended for you

YEATS protein potential therapeutic target for cancer

Oct 23, 2014

Federal Express and UPS are no match for the human body when it comes to distribution. There exists in cancer biology an impressive packaging and delivery system that influences whether your body will develop cancer or not.

Precise and programmable biological circuits

Oct 23, 2014

A team led by ETH professor Yaakov Benenson has developed several new components for biological circuits. These components are key building blocks for constructing precisely functioning and programmable bio-computers.

User comments : 0