What is it about?

Bacteria use networks of interacting proteins to monitor and adapt to changing environments during infection and other important processes. Here, we develop an optical method to watch this decision making process occur in real time in live bacteria.

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Why is it important?

Previously, bacteria had to be destroyed so that their proteins could be measured in test tubes. This approach was slow and arduous, resulting in a limited understanding of how they make decision-making networks. Because it is simple and non-invasive, our method reveals how bacteria make decisions in unprecedented detail. We use it to discover an unexpected pulse of activation in a bacterial network involved in intestinal infection.


We hope that this method will allow researchers across the world to gain new insights into the function of bacterial decision-making networks that not only advance scientific understanding but help inform the design of new antimicrobial drugs. In addition, these bacterial pathways sense an unrivaled range of chemical, biological, and physical stimuli relevant to medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, environmental monitoring and so on. We believe our method could also be used to engineer biosensors that report the presence of diverse stimuli in a range of settings to contribute to these fields as well.

Jeffrey Tabor
Rice University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Real-time detection of response regulator phosphorylation dynamics in live bacteria, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2201204119.
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