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Fruit flies provide new knowledge about uninhibited cell growth
Date:4/27/2012

In a new study, scientists at the University of Copenhagen show that a specific type of carbohydrate plays an important role in the intercellular signalling that controls the growth and development of the nervous system. In particular, defects in that carbohydrate may result in the uninhibited cell growth that characterizes the genetic disease neurofibromatosis and certain types of cancer. The results have just been published in the well-reputed journal PNAS.

Scientists from The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen have put a special type of fruit fly under the microscope. The new research results turn the spotlight on a certain group of carbohydrates the so-called glycolipids and their influence on the cells' complicated communication system. In the long term, this model study can shine new light on the disease neurofibromatosis for the benefit of patients the world over. Egghead to the right: changes in cellular growth. Foto: Klaus Qvortrup

"The most important thing about our discovery right now is that we document a new function for carbohydrates in the communication between cells. We also show how disturbances in the signalling pathways cause changes in cellular growth. This is knowledge that cancer researchers can develop," says Ole Kjrulff, doctor and associate professor at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, who has conducted the study together with Dr. Katja Dahlgaard, and Hans Wandall, associate professor at the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics.

Sugar chains control cell growth

Glycolipids are compounds consisting of fats linked to long chains of sugar molecules. They are located in the cell membrane, where they serve various functions, such as protecting the cell or making it recognizable to the immune system.

"In the fruit fly model, if we prevent the sugar chains from lengthening, we can show that carbohydrate plays an important role in controllin
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Contact: Associate Professor Ole Kjrulff
okjaerulff@sund.ku.dk
01-145-204-55273
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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