Navigation Links
It must be important but what does it do? The strange case of UCP2
Date:8/17/2012

When uncoupling proteins are active, mitochondria produce heat instead of ATP. This may be useful under certain circumstances, such as when an animal is hibernating. But non-hibernating animals also have them. Particularly poorly understood is the uncoupling protein UCP2. Elena Pohl and colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, show that the protein occurs mainly in cells of the immune system. The group's highly provocative findings are published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Mitochondria represent the powerhouses of the eukaryotic cell. They are able to use the primary product of the breakdown of sugars to generate a proton gradient across their inner membrane and to exploit this gradient to produce ATP, which drives cellular metabolism. The importance of mitochondria to higher life forms is clear from what happens when their function is blocked: many poisons, such as cyanide, are known to act in this manner.

In this light, the discovery in 1973 of a eukaryotic protein that dissipates the proton gradient without generating ATP was highly unexpected. When this protein, thermogenin, is active, mitochondria produce heat rather than ATP. We now know that thermogenin is merely one member of a family of so-called 'uncoupling proteins' that can use proton gradients to generate heat. The founder member of the family, thermogenin, has been renamed uncoupling protein 1 or UCP1 and is known to be important in helping animals keep warm during hibernation and for babies to maintain their body temperature. The actions of the other members of the family are less well understood. Particularly enigmatic is UCP2 but important clues to its function have now been provided by Anne Rupprecht and colleagues in the Institute of Physiology at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. Together with collaboration partners in Germany and Sweden, the researchers carefully examined the distribution of the UCP2 protein in mice. Their results showed clearly that UCP2 was preferentially expressed in cells related to the immune system and not, as generally believed, in neurons.

The implication was that UCP2 might somehow be involved in immune function. This surprising idea was tested by examining the change in UCP2 levels in T cells that were stimulated into action by a specific antigen. Stimulation indeed caused an increase in the amount of UCP2 in the cells. This was paralleled by increases in the concentrations of other proteins known to be produced in response to T-cell activation. When the cells were further stimulated seven and fourteen days later the amount of UCP2 increased although the amounts of the other proteins investigated did not.

It is attractive to speculate that the increase in UCP2 might be involved in signalling T-call stimulation but Pohl is quick to quash the notion. "Anne showed that the increase in UCP2 only starts a few hours after activation of T cells, while other events are seen much sooner. UCP2 thus arrives too late to be involved in stimulating the cells, so the increase must be related to overall metabolic changes in proliferating cells. This fits with our observation that UCP2 is not found in neurons, which no longer proliferate" In other words, although we still cannot be sure of the exact function of this intriguing protein, "at least we now know where to start looking!" And the finding that UCP2 is required by fast proliferating cells may have important consequences for the development of treatments for immune disorders, such as autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, and perhaps also for other diseases where cells divide rapidly, such as cancer.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elena Pohl
Elena.Pohl@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-650-366-3205
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Large, medically important class of proteins starts to yield its secrets
2. University of Miami-led study finds winds played important role in keeping oil away from S. Fla.
3. Wildfire and an example of its important link to the ecosystem
4. Overweight? New research explains how proper sleep is important for healthy weight
5. Geneticist develops tool to identify genes important in disease, tailoring individual treatment
6. Zip code as important as genetic code in childhood obesity
7. Misperception of weight is an important barrier to weight loss
8. Improved Authentication and Confidentiality Protection. ICAP Patent Brokerage Announces for Auction Important Patents in Data Encryption and Document Security
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2016)... 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , a market ... opening of an IoT Center of Excellence in ... the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it ... from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... UAE, May 9, 2016 Elevay ... comes to expanding freedom for high net worth professionals ... in today,s globally connected world, there is still no ... could ever duplicate sealing your deal with a firm ... passports by taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... FRANCISCO and BANGALORE, India , ... of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... provider, today announced a global partnership that will ... way to use mobile banking and payment services. ... is a key innovation area for financial services, but it ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced ... of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials ... dose studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, ... in healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects ... single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only ... Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June ... scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: