Navigation Links
How do we kill rogue cells?
Date:10/31/2010

A team of Melbourne and London researchers have shown how a protein called perforin punches holes in, and kills, rogue cells in our bodies. Their discovery of the mechanism of this assassin is published today in the science journal Nature.

"Perforin is our body's weapon of cleansing and death," says project leader Prof James Whisstock from Monash University.

"It breaks into cells that have been hijacked by viruses or turned into cancer cells and allows toxic enzymes in, to destroy the cell from within. Without it our immune system can't destroy these cells. Now we know how it works, we can start to fine tune it to fight cancer, malaria and diabetes," he says.

The first observations that the human immune system could punch holes in target cells was made by the Nobel laureate Jules Bordet over 110 years ago. But how?

Researchers from Monash University and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, and Birkbeck College in London collaborated on the ten-year study to unravel the molecular structure and function of perforinthe protein responsible. The structure was revealed with the help of the Australian Synchrotron, and with powerful electron microscopes at Birkbeck. Combining the detailed structure of a single perforin molecule with the electron microscopy reconstruction of a ring of perforins forming a hole in a model membrane reveals how this protein assembles to punch holes in cell membranes.

The new research has confirmed that the important parts of the perforin molecule are quite similar to those in toxins deployed by bacteria such as anthrax, listeria and streptococcus. "The molecular structure has survived for close to two billion years, we think," says Prof Joe Trapani, head of the Cancer Immunology Program at Peter Mac.

"This work is a dramatic illustration of the importance of the synchrotron," says Whisstock. "We simply couldn't have done it without this wonderful facility."

The weapon of death is a powerful molecule. If perforin isn't working properly the body can't fight infected cells. And there is evidence from mouse studies, says Trapani, that defective perforin leads to an upsurge in malignancy, particularly leukaemia.

Perforin is also the culprit when the wrong cells are marked for elimination, either in autoimmune disease conditions, such as early onset diabetes, or in tissue rejection following bone marrow transplantation.

So the researchers are now investigating ways to boost perforin for more effective cancer protection and therapy for acute diseases such as cerebral malaria. And with the help of a $1 million grant from the Wellcome Trust they are working on potential inhibitors to suppress perforin and counter tissue rejection.


'/>"/>

Contact: Niall Byrne
niall@scienceinpublic.com.au
61-417-131-977
Science in Public
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Oregons Rogue River Basin to face climate-change hurdles
2. iGEM team helps prevent rogue use of synthetic biology
3. Does the existing standard of care supply energy sources to brain tumor cells?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... Allen Institute for Cell Science today announces the launch ... dynamic digital window into the human cell. The website ... deep learning to create predictive models of cell organization, ... suite of powerful tools. The Allen Cell Explorer will ... resources created and shared by the Allen Institute for ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... CHICAGO , March 29, 2017  higi, the ... ecosystem in North America , today ... Partners and the acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment ... extensive set of tools to transform population health activities ... and lifestyle data. higi collects and secures ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... MD (PRWEB) , ... April 20, 2017 , ... ... the formation of a unique intellectual property (IP) sharing and commercialization model. , ... most promising inventions. A main component of this effort is bringing the IP ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... YORK , April 20, 2017 ... that focuses on novel drug development and clinical research aimed ... are: Biostage Inc. (NASDAQ: BSTG), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: KERX), ... ZIOP ). You can access our complimentary research ... ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... , ... April 18, 2017 , ... Alisa Wright, founder ... Alumni Awards from the Purdue College of Pharmacy in Lafayette, Indiana. , The ... Program for achievements in their careers and other scientific endeavors. , Wright began ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 19, 2017 , ... ... $1.5M Series A-1 financing round. This event adds to several other early achievements ... its’ Executive and Scientific Teams. , ThermaGenix will use proceeds from ...
Breaking Biology Technology: