Arginine-Rich Small Proteins with a Domain of Unknown Function


Arginine-Rich Small Proteins with a Domain of Unknown Function, DUF1127, Play a Role in Phosphate and Carbon Metabolism of Agrobacterium tumefaciens

  • In any given organism, approximately one-third of all proteins have a yet-unknown function. A widely distributed domain of unknown function is DUF1127. Approximately 17,000 proteins with such an arginine-rich domain are found in 4,000 bacteria. Most of them are single-domain proteins, and a large fraction qualifies as small proteins with fewer than 50 amino acids.


  • We systematically identified and characterized the seven DUF1127 members of the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens They all give rise to authentic proteins and are differentially expressed as shown at the RNA and protein levels. The seven proteins fall into two subclasses on the basis of their length, sequence, and reciprocal regulation by the LysR-type transcription factor LsrB.


  • The absence of all three short DUF1127 proteins caused a striking phenotype in later growth phases and increased cell aggregation and biofilm formation. Protein profiling and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis of the wild type and triple mutant revealed a large number of differentially regulated genes in late exponential and stationary growth.


  • The most affected genes are involved in phosphate uptake, glycine/serine homeostasis, and nitrate respiration. The results suggest a redundant function of the small DUF1127 paralogs in nutrient acquisition and central carbon metabolism of tumefaciens. 
  • They may be required for diauxic switching between carbon sources when sugar from the medium is depleted. We end by discussing how DUF1127 might confer such a global impact on cell physiology and gene expression.I


MPORTANCE Despite being prevalent in numerous ecologically and clinically relevant bacterial species, the biological role of proteins with a domain of unknown function, DUF1127, is unclear. Experimental models are needed to approach their elusive function. We used the phytopathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a natural genetic engineer that causes crown gall disease, and focused on its three small DUF1127 proteins.


They have redundant and pervasive roles in nutrient acquisition, cellular metabolism, and biofilm formation. The study shows that small proteins have important previously missed biological functions. How small basic proteins can have such a broad impact is a fascinating prospect of future research.


SurA is a cryptically grooved chaperone that expands unfolded outer membrane proteins

  • The periplasmic chaperone network ensures the biogenesis of bacterial outer membrane proteins (OMPs) and has recently been identified as a promising target for antibiotics. SurA is the most important member of this network, both due to its genetic interaction with the β-barrel assembly machinery complex as well as its ability to prevent unfolded OMP (uOMP) aggregation.


  • Using only binding energy, the mechanism by which SurA carries out these two functions is not well-understood.
  • Here, we use a combination of photo-crosslinking, mass spectrometry, solution scattering, and molecular modeling techniques to elucidate the key structural features that define how SurA solubilizes uOMPs. Our experimental data support a model in which SurA binds uOMPs in a groove formed between the core and P1 domains.


  • This binding event results in a drastic expansion of the rest of the uOMP, which has many biological implications. Using these experimental data as restraints, we adopted an integrative modeling approach to create a sparse ensemble of models of a SurA•uOMP complex. We validated key structural features of the SurA•uOMP ensemble using independent scattering and chemical crosslinking data.


  • Our data suggest that SurA utilizes three distinct binding modes to interact with uOMPs and that more than one SurA can bind a uOMP at a time. This work demonstrates that SurA operates in a distinct fashion compared to other chaperones in the OMP biogenesis network.

Comparison of legume and dairy proteins for the impact of Maillard conjugation on nanoemulsion formation, stability, and lutein color retention


While dairy proteins have traditionally been used to stabilize nanoemulsions, there is a trend towards plant-based formulations. Additionally, both types of protein are poorly soluble near their isoelectric point. The main goals of this research were to develop and characterize Maillard conjugates from pea protein (PPI) or caseinate and dextran, and to evaluate the physical stability of nanoemulsions made with such emulsifiers at various ionic strengths, pH = 4.6, and temperatures during storage, as well as lutein color retention over storage.

Protein conjugates formed nanoemulsions with diameters of 125 ± 12 nm (PDI = 0.13 ± 0.00) and 269 ± 36 nm (PDI = 0.76 ± 0.42) (pH = 7) for caseinate and PPI, respectively. Conjugation improved the physical stability (droplet size) of emulsions at the isoelectric point, during storage at 4-55 °C, and in ionic solutions.

Lutein color degradation was better associated with particle size than conjugation and was lowest for PPI-stabilized emulsions. This study suggests that Maillard conjugation could improve PPI emulsification properties.

EBV-miR-BART12 accelerates migration and invasion in EBV-associated cancer cells by targeting tubulin polymerization-promoting protein 1

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection leads to cancers with an epithelial origin, such as nasopharyngeal cancer and gastric cancer, as well as multiple blood cell-based malignant tumors, such as lymphoma. Interestingly, EBV is also the first virus found to carry genes encoding miRNAs. EBV encodes 25 types of pre-miRNAs which are finally processed into 44 mature miRNAs. Most EBV-encoded miRNAs were found to be involved in the occurrence and development of EBV-related tumors.

However, the function of EBV-miR-BART12 remains unclear. The findings of the current study revealed that EBV-miR-BART12 binds to the 3’UTR region of Tubulin Polymerization-Promoting Protein 1 (TPPP1) mRNA and downregulates TPPP1, thereby promoting the invasion and migration of EBV-related cancers, such as nasopharyngeal cancer and gastric cancer.

The mechanism underlying this process was found to be the inhibition of TPPP1 by EBV-miRNA-BART12, which, in turn, inhibits the acetylation of α-tubulin, and promotes the dynamic assembly of microtubules, remodels the cytoskeleton, and enhances the acetylation of β-catenin. β-catenin activates epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT).

These two processes synergistically promote the invasion and metastasis of tumor cells. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal the role of EBV-miRNA-BART12 in the development of EBV-related tumors as well as the mechanism underlying this process, and suggests potential targets and strategies for the treatment of EBV-related tumors.

By Mashid

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