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Adaptive strategies in cells from the deep sea

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High protein flexibility and reduced hydration water dynamics are key pressure adaptive strategies in cells from the deep sea.

The microbe Thermococcus barophilus which lives close to hot vents in the deep sea is exposed to extreme conditions including high temperature (85 C) and high hydrostatic pressure (400 bar). Up to date the adaptation mechanism to high pressure is unknown.

To shed light on how such cells cope with pressure, a neutron scattering study was undertaken on T. barophilus and T. kodakarensis, a species of the same family living at high temperature, at several instruments of the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble. We found an increased flexibility of T. barophilus under pressure in contrary to most biomolecules, for which pressure tends to reduce dynamics, combined with reduced hydratation water dynamics. It might be essential as pressure adaptation strategy. These results have been published in "Scientific Reports".