Navigation Links
Breakthrough: With a chaperone, copper breaks through
Date:10/18/2010

Information on proteins is critical for understanding how cells function in health and disease. But while regular proteins are easy to extract and study, it is far more difficult to gather information about membrane proteins, which are responsible for exchanging elements essential to our health, like copper, between a cell and its surrounding tissues.

Now Prof. Nir Ben-Tal and his graduate students Maya Schushan and Yariv Barkan of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have investigated how a type of membrane protein transfers essential copper ions throughout the body. This mechanism, Schushan says, could also be responsible for how the body absorbs Cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug used to fight cancer. In the future, this new knowledge may allow scientists to improve the way the drug is transferred throughout the body, she continues.

Their breakthrough discovery was detailed in a recent issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Cellular gatekeepers and chaperones

Most proteins are water soluble, which allows for easy treatment and study. But membrane proteins reside in the greasy membrane that surrounds a cell. If researchers attempt to study them with normal technology of solubilization in water, they are destroyed ― and can't be studied.

Copper, which is absorbed into the body through a membrane protein, is necessary to the healthy functioning of the human body. A deficiency can give rise to disease, while loss of regulation is toxic. Therefore, the cell handles copper ions with special care. One chaperone molecule delivers the copper ion to an "entrance gate" outside the cell; another chaperone then picks it up and carries it to various destinations inside the cell.

The researchers suggest that this delicate system is maintained by passing one copper ion at a time by the copper transporter, allowing for maximum control of the copper ions. "This way, there is no risk of bringing several copper ions into the protein at the same time, which ultimately prevents harmful chemical reactions between the ions and the abundant chemical reagents within the cell," explains Prof. Ben-Tal. Once the ion has passed through the transporter into the cell, the transporter is ready to receive another copper ion if necessary.

Improving cancer drugs ― and more

The mechanism which transfers copper throughout the body may also be responsible for the transfer of the common chemotherapy drug Cisplatin. By studying how copper is transferred throughout the body, researchers may also gain a better understanding of how this medication and others are transferred into the cell.

With this information, says Prof. Ben-Tal, scientists could improve the transfer of the drug throughout the body, or develop a more effective chemotherapy drug. And that's not the only pharmaceutical dependent on the functioning of membrane proteins. "Sixty percent of drugs target membrane proteins," he explains, "so it's critical to learn how they function."


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Stem cell breakthrough: Monitoring the on switch that turns stem cells into muscle
2. Behavior breakthrough: Like animals, plants demonstrate complex ability to integrate information
3. International copper industry defines role in the fight against hospital infections
4. Consumers over age 50 should consider steps to cut copper and iron intake
5. Additive copper-zinc interaction affects toxic response in soybean
6. Montana State University historian wins prize for book on Montana, Utah copper mines
7. New screen offers hope for copper deficiency sufferers
8. CEAP study examines nitrogen, copper levels in Bay watershed
9. Hidden infections crucial to understanding, controlling disease outbreaks
10. Fowl soil additive breaks down crude oil
11. US tax breaks subsidize foreign oil production
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/20/2016)... MINNETONKA, Minn. , Jan. 20, 2016   ... that supports the entire spectrum of clinical research, is ... in 2015. MedNet,s significant achievements are the result of ... of) iMedNet eClinical , it,s comprehensive, ... --> --> Key MedNet growth ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... , Jan. 15, 2016 Recent publicized ... small to find new ways to ensure data security ... iOS and Android that ties ... biometrics, transforming it into a hardware authorization token. Customer ... swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled device to ...
(Date:1/11/2016)... Jan. 11, 2016 Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ: ... today announced that its ClearPad ® TouchView ™ ... won two separate categories in the 8 th ... Best Technology Breakthrough. The Synaptics ® TDDI solution ... supply chain, thinner devices, brighter displays and borderless designs. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... SAN DIEGO , Feb. 12, 2016 Biocom, ... life science community, took a group of San ... as part of its 2016 Precision Medicine Advocacy Fly-In. ... at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for ... (NIH), as well as San Diego U.S. Representatives Susan ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... MedGenome,s Commitment Will Help ... of Complex Diseases Such as Cancer, Metabolic Disorders, ... --> --> MedGenome, the market ... leading provider of genomics research services globally, today ... GenomeAsia 100K consortium as a founding member. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Germany and GERMANTOWN, Maryland ... QGEN ; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced the ... Panels for gene expression profiling, expanding QIAGEN,s portfolio of ... panels enable researchers to select from over 20,000 human ... discover interactions between genes, cellular phenotypes and disease processes. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... delivering cutting-edge information focused on the development and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and ... premier sponsor of the 2016 BioProcess International Awards – Recognizing Excellence in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: