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Carnegie Mellon researchers discover mechanism for signaling receptor recycling
Date:12/22/2010

PITTSBURGHAn international team of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University's Manojkumar Puthenveedu has discovered the mechanism by which signaling receptors recycle, a critical piece in understanding signaling receptor function. Writing in the journal Cell, the team for the first time describes how a signaling receptor travels back to the cell membrane after it has been activated and internalized.

Signaling receptors live on the cell membrane waiting to be matched with their associated protein ligand. When they meet, the two join together like a lock and key, turning on and off critical functions within the cell. Many of these functions play a role in human health, and each new discovery about how these complex receptors work provides a potential therapeutic target for conditions including heart, lung and inflammatory disease.

After the receptor and ligand unite, they enter the cell packaged in a container called a vesicle, which delivers them to an even larger container inside the cell called an endosome. From the endosome, receptors can take one of three routes: they can travel to the lysosome and be degraded; travel to the Golgi apparatus and be processed; or the receptor can separate from its ligand and recycle back to the cell membrane via a finger-like offshoot called a tubule.

Some receptors, like nutrient receptors, are recycled back to the cell membrane very quickly through a continuous and unregulated process called bulk recycling. In the case of signaling receptors, researchers noticed that they seemed to recycle at a slower rate and in a more regulated manner. The signaling receptors took minutes to return to the cell surface, indicating that they might not be following the same bulk pathway as other classes of receptors.

"Nutrient receptors can be recycled very quickly without causing any harm, but uncontrolled recycling of a signaling receptor can have serious consequences. For instance, unrestrain
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Contact: Jocelyn Duffy
jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-9982
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert  

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