A miniaturized version of the eukaryotic ribosome found in microsporidia
A research team lead by MIMS/SciLifeLab research group leader Jonas Barandun uses cryo-electron microscopy to provide near atomic details of the smallest known eukaryotic cytoplasmic protein synthesis machine, the microsporidian ribosome.
150 years ago, the European silk industry was threatened by an unknown epidemic killing the silkworms. At that time, Louis Pasteur was able to identify the source of infection and made important suggestions for treatment. The silk production in Europe survived. Today, a microsporidian parasite is known as the cause of this epidemic and silk worm diseases still cause more than 100 million USD losses to the Chinese silk industry every year. Microsporidiosis is not restricted to silk worms. The diverse phylum of the microsporidia contains thousands of different species with parasites for essentially every animal. At least 14 of them can infect humans. Particularly challenged by microsporidia are not only aquacultures, sericultures and honey bee populations in which infections can wipe out entire hives, but also immunocompromised patients. Microsporidia are a risk for the environment, agriculture and human health and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently added the parasitic fungi to the list of emerging pathogens of high priority. Even if microsporidia infections are among the most common parasitic diseases in all animals, relatively little is known about their fascinating molecular life which is shaped by an accelerated evolutionary rate and extreme genome compaction.
Together with researchers from The Rockefeller University and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Jonas Barandun, new group leader at The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), publishes the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the microsporidian ribosome which visualizes the effect of extreme genome compaction on an essential molecular machine (Nature Microbiology, 22 July 2019).