Gregory Phillips, Microbiology, (515) 294-1525
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa – An Iowa State microbiology professor is part of a research team that has uncovered fundamental new knowledge about how life functions at the molecular level. The team's findings appear in the Aug. 10 issue of the journal, "Nature."

The paper, "YidC Mediates Membrane Protein Insertion in Bacteria," describes how the product of a previously unknown gene, yidC, functions to insert proteins into cell membranes. Proteins once thought to be spontaneously inserted into membranes were shown to require yidC. This gene is also found in the mitochondria of both plant and animal cells, suggesting it plays a similar role in all living systems, the researchers said. The mitochondria are subcellular structures that generate energy for the cell.

In addition to ISU associate professor Gregory Phillips, the research team includes James Samuelson, Minyong Chen, Fenglei Jiang and Ross Dalbey, Ohio State University, Columbus; Ines Möller and Martin Wiedmann, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.; and Andreas Kuhn, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

"In addition to providing new insights into how all living cells function, the research could also lead to new targets for antibiotics and new applications in biotechnology," Phillips said.

"Nature" is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary scientific journal.


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