New research identifies a bacterial 'Jekyll and Hyde' molecule involved in immune responses

New research identifies a bacterial ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ molecule involved in immune responses
Structures of 3'cADPR (left) and the Thoeris defence system in complex with 3'cADPR (right). Credit: Griffith University

Griffith University researchers have played a key role in investigating a new molecule that protects bacteria against viruses and is associated with bacterial infection of plants.

Dr. Thomas Ve, a lead researcher at Griffith University's Institute for Glycomics and co-senior author on the new Science paper, said are on the watch for and have evolved a large repertoire of defense systems to protect themselves.

"Studying such defense systems have in the past led to powerful molecular tools that may one day be used for new treatments of diseases," Dr. Ve said.

The aim of the study was to look at bacterial enzymes that cleave a ubiquitous nucleotide called NAD () and produce new signaling molecules.

"These signaling molecules take part in a virus defense system called Thoeris," Dr. Ve said.

"Surprisingly, our research shows one of these molecules—called 3'cADPR—is not only an activator of the Thoeris defense system but is also associated with suppression of the immune system in plants."

The researchers used a suite of structural biology techniques such as , and X-ray crystallography to reveal the chemical structures of these signaling molecules and how they are produced and function.

"We were able create three dimensional snapshots of how they are produced and how they activate the Thoeris defense system," Dr. Ve said.

"Time will tell if this basic research leads to new technologies with the potential to treat or prevent diseases."

Institute Director, Professor Mark von Itzstein AO said this fundamental research brings substantial new insight to complex biology.

"This study published in the journal Science provides atomic level detail of an intricate biological process," Professor von Itzstein said.

"The study outcomes open up new areas of endeavor that could have significant biological impact."

More information: Mohammad K. Manik et al, Cyclic ADP ribose isomers: Production, chemical structures, and immune signaling, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.adc8969

Journal information: Science

Citation: New research identifies a bacterial 'Jekyll and Hyde' molecule involved in immune responses (2022, September 7) retrieved 28 November 2022 from
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