Many other bacteria also have the parA protein, which is known for separating chromosomes during cell division. "This work highlights how bacteria cobble together spare parts to achieve similar goals such as organization and segregation," said David Rudner, HMS assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, who was not involved in the study.
These findings may help synthetic biologists one day create designer bacteria.
"Knowledge about how cells create and deploy specialized factories like the carboxysome opens the way to creating other kinds of mini factories that could perform useful functions," said Richard Losick, Harvard University professor of molecular and cellular biology, who was not involved in the study.
Silver's lab is looking into whether the carboxysome might be useful for optimizing the production of hydrogen by engineered bacteria. One challenge in designing hydrogen-producing bacteria is that the enzymes that produce hydrogen are sensitive to oxygen. The carboxysome may help solve this problem because its outer shell blocks out oxygen, protecting the enzymes inside from its toxic effects.
|Contact: David Cameron|
Harvard Medical School