Navigation Links
Inner workings of a cellular nanomotor revealed

Our cells produce thousands of proteins but more than one-third of these proteins can fulfill their function only after migrating to the outside of the cell. While it is known that protein migration occurs with the help of various 'nanomotors' that push proteins out of the cell, little is known about their precise mechanical functioning. New research by Anastassios Economou (KU Leuven) and his team reveals the inner workings of one such nanomotor, called SecA, with new clarity.

Protein migration is a fundamental problem in biology and is essential for life. Examples of migrating proteins include insulin (the absence of which leads to diabetes), antibodies (essential for combating infections), membrane channels (essential for neuronal cell function) and toxin-proteins (secreted by pathogenic microorganisms).

Migrating proteins contain chemical signals called signal peptides. These signal peptides act as postal addresses and direct exported proteins to the membrane for transport outside the cell.

In previous research, Dr Economou, in collaboration with Babis Kalodimos (Rutgers University), revealed how signal peptides bind to a specific cellular receptor on the membrane, which subsequently connects to the export channel leading out of the cell. This receptor was also found to act as a nanomotor, with two separate piston-like mechanical parts that somehow push proteins out of the cell. The exact mechanism by which this occurred remained a mystery. Until now.

In the current study, published in the December issue of Molecular Cell, Economou and his team show how the SecA receptor moves to push proteins out of the cell: when a signal peptide makes contact, the two pistons become excited. They position themselves one against the other in a series of defined steps and modify their shape. This finely orchestrated series of motions opens the export channel and traps the exported protein inside it. In a final step, the two parts dissociate and the remaining single piston pushes the protein out in cycles of repeated motions.

The discovery adds a significant piece in the puzzle of exploiting protein migration to improve health. "Moving forward, this discovery will help us focus efforts to find specific antibiotics against harmful bacterial protein secretion pathways," says Dr Economou. "It also offers the possibility to optimise biotechnological production of human biopharmaceuticals by using microbial 'cell factories' for secreting biopharmaceuticals. We will be pursuing these avenues in future research."

Contact: Professor Tassos Economou
KU Leuven

Related biology news :

1. Biophysical Society announces winners of 2014 Minority Affairs Committee Travel Awards
2. Biophysical Society announces winners of 2014 CPOW Travel Awards
3. Nobel winners for discoveries on cellular vesicle transport speak out at ASCB in New Orleans
4. Inventions that improve lives are winners at the 2013 Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge
5. AIBS announces winners of Faces of Biology photo competition
6. NERC announces the winner of its first photo and essay competition
7. Winners named in 2013 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards competition
8. AVS Announces Its Major Award Winners of 2013
9. Dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI
10. DOE rooftop challenge winners offer energy, cost savings
11. AnaptysBio Named a 2013 "Fierce 15" Winner
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Inner workings of a cellular nanomotor revealed
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... controller solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the ... Huawei. --> --> ... Google to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, ... , an innovator in modern authentication and a founding ... the launch of its latest version of the Nok ... organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and ... Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has announced the ... 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... recognition biometrics market to grow at a CAGR of ... --> The report, Global Voice Recognition Biometrics ... market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... PHILADELPIA, PA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... young entrepreneurs at competitive events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ... student projects from each state are competing for votes to win the title of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual General Meeting ... Israel time, at the law offices of ... th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; , election of ... approval of an amendment to certain terms of options granted to our ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... InSphero AG, the leading supplier of easy-to-use solutions for production, ... to serve as Chief Operating Officer. , Having joined InSphero in November ... and was promoted to Head of InSphero Diagnostics in 2014. There she has ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... company focused on discovering drugs for metabolic disorders, ... Watkins to its Board of Directors (BOD). ... executive officer of Human Genome Sciences (HGS), and ... Industry Organization. Jim Powers , Chairman ...
Breaking Biology Technology: