A Bacterial Jigsaw Puzzle Is Solved

Scientists worked on bacterial microcompartments  and discovered how the pieces fit together.

Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are hollow protein shells that encapsulate enzymes involved in bacterial metabolism. They serve to co-localize the enzymes and their reactants for greater efficiency, as well as to sequester reaction products from the rest of the cell. Despite the availability of structural information on individual shell components, the principles governing how the pieces fit together have remained elusive.

Researchers have now performed protein crystallography studies at the ALS and at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) of a fully assembled BMC as well as its separate building blocks. The resulting atomic-resolution views reveal the basic principles of shell construction and provide important information for fighting pathogens and for bioenergy or biotechnology applications.

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