Research at MICR

Introduction

Archaea form the third domain of life, next to bacteria and eukaryotes. Extremophiles are micro-organisms that live in extreme environments, such as high or low temperatures, high salt concentrations, acidic or basic environments, ... Many extremophiles belong to the archaea, including the hyperthermoacidophiles, such as Sulfolobus. Sulfolobus can be isolated from solfataras, sulphur-rich geisers and volcanos. These habitats vary in temperature between 60°C and 100°C and in acidity, between pH 1 to pH 5. This archaeon is a model organism of the aerobic crenarchaeota, one of the largest archaeal phyla, because of its known genome sequence, genetic stability and recently developed genetic and molecular biology tools, like gene knock-out techniques and shuttle vectors.

For the survival and fitness of these microorganisms, it is crucial to respond and adapt to environmental changes, mainly by regulation of gene expression. The family of the Lrp-like (Leucine-responsive Regulatory Protein) transcriptional regulators is one of the most abundant families of transcriptional regulators in archaea and bacteria. These regulators are either specific or global and may have different effects, depending on the targets and/or the presence of a suitable cofactor. Bacterial Lrp-like proteins are generally involved in the regulation of the amino acid metabolism, but the archaeal regulators are also involved in central metabolic processes.

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