Nano scaffolds inside bacteria usher in a new era of protein engineering


In the United Kingdom, scientists at the universities of Kent and Bristol have built a miniature scaffold inside bacteria that can be used to bolster cellular productivity, with implications for the next generation of biofuel production.

The research team found they could make nano-tubes that generated a scaffold inside bacteria.  With as many as a thousand tubes fitting into each cell, the tubular scaffold can be used to increase the bacteria’s efficiency to make commodities and provide the foundation for a new era of cellular protein engineering.

The researchers designed protein molecules and developed techniques to allow E. coli to make long tubes that contain a coupling device to which other specific components can be attached.  A production line of enzymes could then be arranged along the tubes, generating efficient internal factories for the coordinated production of important chemicals.

When applied to ethanol-producing enzymes, alcohol production increased over 200 percent.

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