the researchers reverse-engineered a primordial protein and injected it into a living bacterium, where it efficiently powered the cell’s metabolism, progress, and reproduction, based on the research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The invention also has implications for the field of synthetic biology, which harnesses the metabolism of microbes to produce industrial chemical compounds; and bioelectronics, which explores to apply cells’ natural circuitry for energy storehouse and other purposes.
The researchers seemed at a class of proteins referred to as ferredoxins, which assist metabolism in bacteria, plants, and animals by transferring electricity by way of cells. These proteins have totally different, advanced forms in at present’s living things, but researchers speculate all of them arose from a much easier protein that was present in the ancestor of all life.
Just like the ways biologists examine modern birds and reptiles to draw conclusions about their shared ancestor, the researchers compared ferredoxin molecules which are present in living things and, using laptop models, designed ancestral forms that will have existed at an earlier stage in the evolution of life.
That analysis led to their creation of a basic version of the protein—a simple ferredoxin that is ready to conduct electricity within a cell and that, over eons of evolution, might have given rise to the various types that exist at present.
Then, to justify their model of the ancient protein may actually help life, they inserted it right into a living cell. They practiced the genome of E. coli bacteria, extracted the gene it uses to build ferredoxin in nature and spliced in a gene for their reverse-engineered protein. The modified E. coli colony survived and grew although more slowly than regular.
Study co-author Vikas Nanda, a professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, stated the invention’s implications for synthetic biology and bioelectronics come from ferredoxins’ role in the circuitry of life.