Navigation Links
Scientist wins $3 million renewal of one of longest-running NIH grants to Scripps Research

LA JOLLA, CA April 19 The Scripps Research Institute has received a $3 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for support of scientist James Hoch's studies on bacterial signaling proteins. The four-year award will fund the ninth term of a grant that began in 1973making it one of the longest-running NIH grants awarded to Scripps Research.

"We started out with an important problem that no one knew much about or had good tools to study," said Hoch, a professor in Scripps Research's Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine. "Our tools have become more sophisticated over the years, but our awareness of the true complexity of bacterial signaling has grown, too."

Hoch's research under the grant was initially aimed at understanding the signals that trigger "sporulation," the developmental process by which some bacteria suspend their normal growth and form tough, seed-like spores. One of the best-known spore-forming species, the infamous anthrax bacterium Bacillus anthracis, can survive this way indefinitely in soil or air; when its spores are inhaled or otherwise get into the body of a host, they switch back to growth-mode and cause frequently lethal infections.

Hoch and his lab at Scripps Research first identified the master gene that was required for sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, a closely related but safer-to-work-with species. In the mid-1980s, with the advent of gene cloning and DNA sequencing, the team purified the gene's product, a DNA-binding protein called Spo0A that serves as the bacterium's master trigger for sporulation.

Hoch's studies of Spo0A and its partner signaling proteins led to one of the earliest descriptions of a "two-component signaling pathway," a simple communication network that enables bacteria to sense and respond to specific stimuli. Such pathways start at the surface of bacterial cells, where sensor histidine kinase enzymes detect specific environmental factors and become activated; these activated enzymes in turn activate "response regulator" proteins inside the bacterial cell, which then switch on the appropriate bacterial gene responses.

"Bacteria use these signal transduction pathways to recognize and respond to the host tissue environment, the presence of other bacteria, and the presence of antibiotics or innate antibacterial peptides," Hoch said, "so the understanding of these interactions is essential to understanding bacterial infections."

In 1990, Hoch and his colleagues described a common biochemical mechanism used in these signaling pathways, a "phospho-relay" in which activating phosphate groups are passed from one signaling molecule to the next. A decade later, the researchers showed with crystal structure experiments precisely how these relay interactions occur. In 2009, in collaboration with physicist Terence Hwa at the University of California, San Diego, they developed a new cutting-edge computational techniqueundreamt of four decades agoto predict interaction sites on a large set of bacterial signaling proteins.

Hoch's major aim continues to be the identification and analysis of bacterial signaling interactionsbasic bacterial biology, in other words. But his findings have revealed innate signal-blocking enzymes and signal-transmitting protein interaction sites, both of which suggest strategies for translational medicine.

"Signal transduction pathways have not been widely exploited as antibiotic targets," he said, "yet by disrupting them one could stop the production of toxins and other virulence factors, and even interfere directly with essential bacterial functions."


Contact: Mika Ono
Scripps Research Institute

Related biology news :

1. Jefferson scientists deliver toxic genes to effectively kill pancreatic cancer cells
2. Scientist plans to test for blood pressure genes affected by age
3. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
4. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
5. MU scientists go green with gold, distribute environmentally friendly nanoparticles
6. Scientists identify gene that may contribute to improved rice yield
7. Scientists discover why a mothers high-fat diet contributes to obesity in her children
8. MU scientists see how HIV matures into an infection
9. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
10. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
11. Scientists identify a molecule that coordinates the movement of cells
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Scientist wins $3 million renewal of one of longest-running NIH grants to Scripps Research
(Date:11/17/2015)... LIVERMORE, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant ... has joined its Board of Directors. ... Vigilant,s Board after recently retiring from the partnership at ... owning 107 companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  ... performance improvement across all the TPG companies, from 1997 ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 11, 2015   ... and reliable analytical tools has been paving the ... and qualitative determination of discrete analytes in clinical, ... sensors are being predominantly used in medical applications, ... and environmental sectors due to continuous emphasis on ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today announced broader entry into the automotive market with ... match the pace of consumer electronics human interface innovation. ... are ideal for the automotive industry and will be ... Europe , Japan ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: OREX ) today ... discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th Annual Healthcare Conference ... is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, at 8:00 a.m. ... will be available for 14 days after the event.  ... Corporate Communications and Business Development , BrewLife(858) 875-8629 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association ... 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award ... work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is ... of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... --> --> ... Synthesis Market by Product & Services (Primer, Probe, Custom ... RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Diagnostic Labs) - ... is expected to reach USD 1,918.6 Million by 2020 ... of 10.1% during the forecast period. Browse ...
Breaking Biology Technology: