Scientists study structure of Wza protein

Nov 08, 2006

Scottish scientists have deciphered the three-dimensional structure of Wza, an integral outer-membrane protein that has been linked to virulence.

Many bacteria possess an external "capsule" of secreted polysaccharide molecules that help them to colonize surfaces, the researchers said, and Wza is responsible for moving such polysaccharides from the inside to the outside of the bacteria where they can function. The capsule is effectively the first point of contact between host and pathogen, making it a potential target for vaccines and other therapies.

The X-ray crystal structure the scientists deciphered reveals that most of Wza is located in the space between the inner plasma membrane and the outer cellular membrane or periplasm.

The protein, described by James Naismith and colleagues at St. Andrews University, contains a large central cavity through which the polysaccharides are transported.

The researchers say understanding the protein's structure should also contribute to a broader understanding of how other large polar molecules, such as DNA and proteins, are exported from cells.

The study appears online in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Norway tests out 'animal rights cops'

Related Stories

Ears, grips and fists take on mobile phone user ID

9 hours ago

A research project has been under way to explore a biometric authentication system dubbed Bodyprint, with interesting test results. Bodyprint has been designed to detect users' biometric features using the ...

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

9 hours ago

A powerful aftershock shook Nepal on Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

Nepal quake: Nearly 1,400 dead, Everest shaken (Update)

20 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky after a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ...

Recommended for you

Norway tests out 'animal rights cops'

6 hours ago

Norwegian police is creating a unit to investigate cruelty to animals, the government said Monday, arguing that those who hurt animals often harm people too.

High-pitched sounds cause seizures in old cats

8 hours ago

When the charity International Cat Care asked veterinary neurologists at Davies Veterinary Specialists, UK, for help with several enquiries it had received regarding cats having seizures, seemingly in response ...

Rare dune plants thrive on disturbance

8 hours ago

Beginning in the 1880s, coastal dunes in the United States were planted with European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) in an attempt to hold the sand in place and prevent it from migrating. The grass did th ...

How an RNA gene silences a whole chromosome

10 hours ago

Researchers at Caltech have discovered how an abundant class of RNA genes, called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs, pronounced link RNAs) can regulate key genes. By studying an important lncRNA, called Xist, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.