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Carbon dioxide's new-found signalling role could be applied to blood flow, birth and deafness
Date:11/13/2013

ings and other mammals produce huge amounts of it every day.

"The exciting implication of our study is that carbon dioxide is much more than just a waste product: it can directly signal physiological information, and our work shows the mechanism by which this happens via Connexin 26.

"As Connexin 26 is present in many tissues and organs, for example the brain, skin, inner ear, liver and the uterus during pregnancy, this discovery should herald a re-evaluation of the potential for carbon dioxide signalling in many different processes such as the control of blood flow, breathing, hearing, reproduction and birth."

Connexin 26 comprises six identical subunits. Carbon dioxide makes a chemical bond to the side chain a particular amino acid. This modified side chain can then form a bridge to a closely oriented amino acid in the adjacent subunit. A total of six carbon dioxide molecules can bind to make six bridges between subunits. These bridges force the Connexin 26 protein to alter its conformation thereby signalling the presence and concentration of carbon dioxide.


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Contact: Luke Harrison
luke.harrison@warwick.ac.uk
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert

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