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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 3

Vertical Transmission, Sepember 2006

I am honoured to lead the Australian Society for Microbiology over the next 2 years. I am committed to advancing the Society in its aims of furthering the science of microbiology, providing a forum for our members, fostering research and education, and promoting professional development of our members.

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Bacterial gene regulation: an overview

Bacteria are highly efficient and metabolically flexible organisms, with their genomes providing them with the ability to adapt to many different environmental conditions. For example, pathogens like Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens grow and survive very well in water and soil, respectively, but are also highly adapted to growth in the human body

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Two-component signal transduction systems: the adapt and survive response

In order to survive and proliferate, bacteria have evolved to sense and adapt to the changes in their surroundings. One of the major ways in which this adaptive regulatory response is achieved is through a two-component signal transduction system.

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Transcriptional repressors

Prokaryotes regulate cellular functions in response to environmental cues via signal transduction pathways. In principal, there are two thematic organisations of signal transduction proteins: ? One-component proteins, in which the input and output domains are physically linked. These are commonly called activators (see article by Schubert & Shearwin) and repressors (reviewed in this article). ? Two-component systems consisting of histidine kinases and response regulators (see article by Cheung & Rood). A recent survey of 145 prokaryotic genomes...

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How bacterial genes get turned on

DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP) from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells is conserved in sequence and structure due to the universality of DNA as a store of information and the need to decode this information into protein expression through copying into messenger RNA.

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Control of transcription by nucleoid proteins

Although not confined to a membrane-bound organelle such as the eukaryotic nucleus, the chromosome(s) of bacterial cells are compacted into a DNA-protein complex termed the nucleoid. Many different proteins appear to be associated with the nucleoid, but we understand the function of just a few of these.

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Bacterial communication: when does a metabolite become a signal?

Bacterial communication has risen to prominence in microbiology as a dynamic research topic, both because of its role in microbial ecology and evolution and for the opportunity it offers to control pathogenic microbial activity. Bacterial communication has evolved from the metabolic processes of prokaryotic cellular life, in which the biosynthesis and breakdown of chemical compounds in central metabolism generates secondary metabolites with ambiguous utility in natural selection.

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Alternative sigma factors: the master regulators

When a bacterial cell encounters a change in environmental conditions, it responds by producing a different complement of cellular proteins. Which proteins are produced and maintained is regulated in a number of ways, including regulation of gene transcription, stabilising or degrading mRNA transcripts, post translational modifications and targeted degradation of proteins.

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Manganese: a key regulator of global cell physiology?

Iron is recognised as central element in bacterial physiology and the control of the iron acquisition regulon in relation to iron status is an established example of how a metal ion can influence gene expression. In contrast, manganese is an element that has long been known to be an essential ?trace element? but, until recently, its influence on gene expression and microbial cell physiology was largely overlooked.

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Regulatory RNA molecules

Numerous examples of antisense RNA-mediated gene regulation have been found in bacteria. Such regulatory systems were first identified on accessory genetic elements such as plasmids, transposons and phages, and it is from these that most of our current knowledge of regulatory RNAs is drawn.

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Complexity in ?2-component? signal transduction systems

The ?2-component? regulatory systems of bacteria are the predominant signal transduction mechanisms that bacteria utilise to modulate behaviours and metabolism in response to environmental changes. These systems classically involve two proteins ? a membrane bound sensor histidine kinase and a soluble response regulator.

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The Australian synchrotron and its impact on biology in Australia

The construction of the Australian synchrotron is proceeding on time and nearing completion, and the first suite of beamlines are expected to commence test experiments in April next year. The advent of this facility will be a big boost to the biological community, especially in the area of structural biology and protein characterisation.

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ASM Affairs, September 2006

New members; Vik Skerman prizewinning essay: Free-living protozoa: the Trojan horse of legionnaires? disease; ASM2006: Gold Coast, 2-6 July 2006;

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