Microbe uses protein to bubble wrap its DNA, avoids being boiled alive

Microbe uses protein to bubble wrap its DNA, avoids being boiled alive

Nature comes up with all kinds of crazy solutions for survival. Unlike any other microbe known, Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, an extremophile part of the Archaea kingdom, uses a unique protein called AspA to form a protective sheath around its DNA during cell division. And it does this while hanging out in 80C (175F) pools full of acid and sulphur.

“Sulfolobus is a superbug that grows at 80°C in highly acidic and sulphur containing environments. These are extremely harsh conditions, where other organisms would literally melt due to the breakdown of cellular membranes and disintegration of their proteins. We discovered that AspA forms an unusual structure. It binds to a specific site on the DNA and then it spreads from there forming a continuous superhelix which wraps around the DNA.”

SourceScience Magazine
ViaUniversity of York
ImageEye of Science and Northwest Landscapes

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