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A fingerprint for genes
Date:3/5/2010

periphery rather than being transported to the centre of the cell. Furthermore, different substances such as nutrients and growth factors are apparently guided to their destination by different set of genes and endocytosis is controlled by various signalling pathways. At the same time, the cells use endocytosis to carefully adjust the quantity of signal molecules on the cell membrane and in the endosomes endocytosis and signalling pathways thus influence each other. All in all, more than 4,000 genes are directly or indirectly involved in endocytosis. "Our findings demonstrate that cells don't simply go out and ingest just any substances, handling them in the same manner. On the contrary, they have a very precise definition of what they need when and in what quantity, and also where it needs to get to in the cell," says Marino Zerial, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics.

Impaired endocytosis can cause disease

The enormous number of genes involved also reflects the significance of endocytosis for the cell and the entire organism. For example, signalling of important metabolic regulators like insulin depend on endocytosis but viruses and other pathogens also use endosomes to infect cells. Immune cells, for their part, swallow pathogens and digest them inside endosomes. Therefore, it might one day be possible to prevent dangerous infections if the endocytosis of viruses and bacteria could be selectively inhibited or if the pathogens could be destroyed more effectively in the endosomes. Even diseases like Alzheimer's and Huntington's are associated with a damaged transport system in the cells, as this prevents survival signals for nerve cells. Consequently, if the role of the different genes in endocytosis were known, it would in future be easier to develop potential treatments for these diseases.

Thanks to the new technology developed in Dresden, this will now be significantly easier. The Max
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Contact: Marino Zerial
zerial@mpi-cbg.de
49-351-210-1100
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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