Overview of the newly discovered lysine degradation pathway in the bacterium E. coli (Copyright: Jörg Hartig) (Source: Nature Communications)

Sweet lysine degradation

The researchers from the Departments of Chemistry and Biology at the University of Konstanz have gained fundamental new insights into the degradation of the amino acid lysine - carcinogenic oncometabolites as intermediate products.

In fact, they were looking for a specific enzyme. What they found is something so fundamental that their new findings might well find their way into textbooks. Referred to here is the amino acid lysine, which is an important building block in proteins. In bacteria and many other organisms, lysine generates energy during degradation. “We thought that there was nothing more to discover in this field. Then it occurred to us that for many bacteria so far nothing is known about how lysine is degraded,” says Professor Jörg Hartig, biochemist at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Konstanz. This even applied for the organism which is by far the most thoroughly studied: The bacterium Escherichia coli, in short E. coli – microbiology’s model organism per se. The results of the collaborative work conducted by researchers in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz can be found in the current issue of Nature Communications, 29th November 2018. Read more...