Working with tiny bacteria, Michigan State University researchers led by Lee Kroos have made a discovery that could have big implications for biology.
The researchers revealed a new way that nature can inhibit or switch off important proteins known as intramembrane proteases — pronounced “pro tea aces” — which the team reported April 26th in the journal eLife.
Although the Spartans made this finding using a model organism, a microbe known as Bacillus subtilis, this type of protein is highly conserved, which is how evolutionary biologists say, “it’s everywhere.”
These types of proteases are found in organisms that span the kingdoms of life, from single-celled bacteria to people. In fact, the first intramembrane protease was discovered in humans in 1997 and perhaps the best-known member of this family, named gamma-secretase, is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.