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Widespread Bacterial CORE Complex Executes Intra- and Inter-Kingdom Cytoplasmic Molecular Trade

Project description

A universal ticket to ride in the bacterial kingdom

Bacteria are among the oldest life forms on Earth and they are found everywhere. Their existence has been closely tied to our own throughout history. The first photosynthesisers released tremendous amounts of oxygen that paved the way to an explosion of life forms. They also began living inside other microbes, with this symbiotic relationship leading to organelles, membrane-bound DNA and multicellular organisms. These relatively simple single-celled organisms orchestrate quite complex interactions and functions, and the EU-funded BacterialCORE project is on the trail of what makes them so creative and social. Researchers have discovered a very small group of proteins that could be largely responsible for trafficking 'information' between bacteria and other bacteria or bacterial hosts. The project should elucidate much of the anatomy and physiology of molecular exchange and its role in the formation of bacterial communities and disease.


The enormous versatility of bacteria enables the formation of multi-species communities that colonize nearly every niche on earth, making them the dominant life form and a major component of the biomass. Exchange of molecular information among neighboring bacteria in such communities, as well as between bacteria and proximal eukaryotic cells, is key for bacterial success. Yet, the principles controlling these multicellular interactions are poorly defined. Here we describe the identification of a bacterial protein complex, herein termed CORE, whose function is to traffic cytoplasmic molecules among different bacterial species, and between pathogenic bacteria and their human host cells. The CORE is composed of five membrane proteins, highly conserved across the entire bacterial kingdom, providing a ubiquitous platform that facilitates both intra- and inter-kingdom crosstalk. Our preliminary data support the idea that the CORE acts as a shared module for the assembly of larger apparatuses, executing this universal molecular flow among organisms. We propose to elucidate components, structure and biogenesis of the CORE machinery, operating during bacteria-bacteria and pathogen-host interactions. We further aim to provide an unbiased-global view of the extent and identity of cytoplasmic molecules traded via CORE including metabolites, proteins and RNA, and to reveal the criteria determining the specificity of the transported cargo. Furthermore, we intend to decipher the impact of CORE-mediated molecular exchange on bacterial physiology and virulence, and devise anti-CORE compounds to combat pathogenic bacteria. This study is expected to transform the way we currently view bacterial communities and host-pathogen interactions. We anticipate these findings to lead to the development of creative strategies to modulate, predict and even design bacterial communities, and lay the foundation for new and innovative approaches to fight bacterial diseases.



Net EU contribution
€ 6 384 741,00
Edmond j safra campus givat ram
91904 Jerusalem

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (2)