ScienceMatters@Berkeley April 2007

Posted on April 11, 2007  Comments (0)

As usually the latest issue of ScienceMatters@Berkeley includes several intersting articles including, The Protein Machine by Kathleen M. Wong

A large percentage of known antibiotics target bacterial ribosomes, including tetracycline, erythromycin, and streptomycin. Many of these antibiotics have been isolated from microbes themselves. “It’s a byproduct of the chemical warfare that’s been going on among bacteria for hundreds of millions of years,” Cate says. “We want to understand how these natural products inhibit translation. Then, based on what we understand about the ribosome mechanism, we should be able to come up with new ways to stop bacterial translation based on the old compounds.”

Self-Tuning Genes:

Researchers such as UC Berkeley’s Adam Arkin have found that regulatory feedback is associated with chance fluctuations in mRNA or protein levels—a phenomenon called expression noise. “Even though they’re all genetically identical, and grown under the same conditions, yeast clones don’t express certain proteins at exactly the same level,” Brem says. “Some genes are noisier than others. That makes people think the cell is actively tuning the distribution around an expression level set by the regulatory network.” Noise may ensure that a few individuals can handle abrupt changes in their environment. In other words, if a colony is suddenly assaulted by toxic chemicals or high heat, a few individuals will already have expression levels suited to those conditions.

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