Navigation Links
Little-known protein found to be key player
Date:7/29/2009

HOUSTON -- (July 29, 2009) -- Italian and U.S. biologists this week report that a little-understood protein previously implicated in a rare genetic disorder plays an unexpected and critical role in building and maintaining healthy cells. Even more surprising, their report in the journal Nature shows that the protein, called "atlastin," does its work by fusing intracellular membranes in a previously undocumented way.

"If you'd asked me a year ago whether this was possible, I would have said, 'No,'" said study co-author James McNew, associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University. "In fact, that's exactly what I told (co-author) Andrea Daga when we first spoke about the idea a year ago."

McNew has spent the past 15 years studying SNARE proteins, a specialized family of proteins that carries out membrane fusion. It's a vital process that happens thousands of times a second in every cell of our bodies.

"It is fitting that the discovery of a new protein capable of fusing membranes comes 10 years after the demonstration that SNAREs can fuse lipid bilayers," said Daga, a researcher at the Eugenio Medea Scientific Institute in Conegliano, Italy.

In the new study, Daga's and McNew's research teams used fruit flies to study how atlastin functions. The atlastin in fruit flies is very similar to the human version of the protein and serves the same function.

"Prior to this, there were only two defined ways in which you could take biological membranes and put them together in a specific way," said McNew, a faculty investigator at Rice's BioScience Resesarch Collaborative. "Atlastin is the third, and it's the only one that requires enzymatic activity, so it's distinctly different."

Using a range of tests on purified proteins, live fruit flies and cell cultures, the Italian and U.S. teams examined the effect of both an overabundance and a scarcity of atlastin on cell function and on fruit fly development. They also created mutant versions of the protein to see how it functioned -- or failed to function -- when some parts were disabled.

The tests showed that cells with extra atlastin had an overdeveloped endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a system of interconnected membrane tubes and chambers that's critical for normal cell function. The tests also showed too little atlastin led to a fragmented ER. Flies with defective atlastin were sterile and short-lived.

"The endoplasmic reticulum is an ever-changing environment," McNew said. "It grows. It retracts. It expands. It collapses. It's highly dynamic, and for that to be the case, there has to be a mechanism by which it can grow new pieces and connect those pieces together. That's where the fusion comes in."

Daga said the discovery will lay the foundation for a deeper understanding of both basic biological processes and disease.

"We hope the findings lead to a better understanding of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), the genetic disorder that atlastin has been linked with," Daga said.

HSP is a rare genetic condition that affects fewer than one million people worldwide. It's marked by a partial paralysis of the lower extremities due to defects in the body's longest cells, the neurons that run from the spine through the legs.

Daga said atlastin's role in building and maintaining a healthy ER may help HSP researchers better understand why neurons are affected first.

"This is the first clue," Daga said. "We have the definition of what the protein does. Now we need to explore how it does that, and what it means."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Book on little-known species and conservation provides guidance to managers and others
2. MSU researcher uses grant to study little-known but largely useful microbes
3. Protein chatter linked to cancer activation
4. Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
5. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
6. Low levels of key protein may indicate pancreatic cancer risk
7. Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolutions steps
8. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
9. Specific brain protein required for nerve cell connections to form and function
10. NIH awards researcher $1.5 million new innovator grant for fruit-fly studies of prion proteins
11. Interacting protein theory awaits test from new neutron analysis tools
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Little-known protein found to be key player
(Date:3/28/2017)... March 28, 2017 The report ... (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), ... - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion by ... 2022. The base year considered for the study is ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by ... Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be ... 2017 and 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Vigilant Solutions , a vehicle location ... announced today the appointment of retired FBI special agent ... business development. Mr. Sheridan brings more than ... focus on the aviation transportation sector, to his new ... Sheridan served as the Aviation Liaison Agent Coordinator (ALAC) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/28/2017)... , June 28, 2017  Scientific Analytics, Inc.,s DARI ... showcased in front of thousands of healthcare providers at Premier ... 27.   Scientific Analytics, DARI Motion Health was debuted ... recognizes advances in healthcare while highlighting industry suppliers committed to ... ...
(Date:6/28/2017)... 28, 2017 Michael Zasloff , MD, ... School of Medicine, and Founder, Chairman and CEO of ... that has helped clarify the function of alpha-Synuclein (aS), ... neurodegenerative diseases. Denise Barbut , MD, FRCP, Co-Founder, ... senior co-author of the study. Published in ...
(Date:6/28/2017)... ... June 28, 2017 , ... ... with three research projects accepted for presentation at the 33rd Annual Meeting of ... participants – including some of the world’s top thought leaders in reproductive medicine ...
(Date:6/28/2017)... ... June 28, 2017 , ... ... for multiphysics computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and analysis includes two new ... version 12.04 introduces Design Manager, allowing users to easily explore multiple design ...
Breaking Biology Technology: