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Highlights of the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting
Date:2/6/2012

fed alcohol for six months. The 3-D images the team produced clearly show that the mitochondria of alcohol-fed rats are disorganized. The primary focus of the team's ongoing analysis is the mitochondrial interface with the ER in particular, characterization of the length, number, and distribution of tethers, which could explain the observed dysfunction of heart mitochondria.

Presentation 2218-Plat, "SR-Mitochondrial ultrastructure in the heart of normal and ethanol-fed rats," is at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

HIGHLIGHTS: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29

Protein Assassin: Scientists find that the unfolded end of a protein can kill E. coli-like bacteria selectively: When bacteria wage a turf war, some of the combatants have an extra weapon. Certain strains of E. coli bacteria produce proteins that kill competing E. coli and other like microbes. Researchers from Newcastle University in England have recently discovered something surprising about one of these lethal proteins: even after the toxic folded portion of the protein is removed, the unfolded end is still deadly. The Newcastle research team focused their attention on a specific bacteria-killing protein called Colicin N. Scientists traditionally divide the structure of Colicin N into three separate parts, or domains: a receptor binding domain that helps the colicin latch onto the bacterial membrane; a translocation domain that helps the colicin wiggle into the cells; and a toxic domain that punches holes in the membrane from the inside, so that potassium, an element essential to proper cell function, leaks out of the bacteria. In order to learn more about how the translocation domain, called ColN-T, functions, the Newcastle researchers isolated this part of the protein and added it to a fluid containing Colicin N-susceptible E. coli. Surprisingly, the E. coli started leaking potassium and dying shortly after the ColN-T was introduced into their environment. It turned out the seemingly
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Contact: Ellen Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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