Episode Summary

Bacteria can use blobs of disordered proteins to quickly adapt to new conditions!

Thanks to Dr. Saumya Saurabh for his contribution!

Microbe of the episode:

Drosophila melanogaster Micropia virus

Jesse's takeaways

Bacteria can adapt to environmental fluctuations via mechanisms operating at the various levels of the central dogma, or metabolism (stringent response). Recently, researchers at Stanford University discovered a mechanism that allows bacteria to sense and rapidly adapt to nutrient fluctuations by simply tuning protein self-assembly as a function of nutrient availability. Termed membraneless organelles or condensates, these proteinaceous assemblies can dynamically sequester key signaling enzymes within them in response to environmental cues. Biophysical adaptation mediated by organelles is fast, reversible, and facile; thereby representing a crucial step in the mechanistic understanding of microbial adaptation.

Journal Paper

Saurabh S, Chong TN, Bayas C, Dahlberg PD, Cartwright HN, Moerner WE, Shapiro L. 2022. ATP-responsive biomolecular condensates tune bacterial kinase signaling. Sci Adv 8:eabm6570.

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