A structural and biochemical analysis of protein/protein interactions in the Escherichia coli degradosome

Infectious diseases are responsible for up to a third of deaths reported worldwide. A large percentage of these deaths are directly related to bacterial infections. Bacterium that cause infections, such as E.coli, thrive because of their ability to rapidly adapt to changes in their environment. The ability to rapidly adapt stems from tight control over the expression levels of proteins within the bacterium. The messenger RNA (mRNA) is a template that codes for proteins ready to be expressed within the cell. The instability of mRNA allows E.coli bacteria to quickly change the expression levels of proteins within the cell in order to adapt and survive when it invades a host cell. E.coli employs a protein complex called the RNA degradasome to degrade mRNA for this purpose. Using X-ray crystallography (a technique for determining the 3D structures of molecules), Dr. Trevor Moraes is researching how the RNA degradasome functions. This analysis of key processes involved with disease-causing bacteria could contribute to the development of new antibiotics to fight bacterial infections.