Navigation Links
New screen offers hope for copper deficiency sufferers
Date:8/17/2010

Copper deficiency diseases can be devastating. Symptoms can range from crippling neurological degeneration in Menkes disease a classic copper deficiency disease to brittle bones, anaemia and defective skin pigmentation in gastric bypass patients. Unfortunately, very little is known about how the body uses this essential nutrient. Knowing that melanocytes (the cells that give rise to hair, skin and eye pigmentation) are dramatically affected by the effects of copper deficiency, Elizabeth Patton from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and other colleagues from UK- and US-based labs decided to find out how melanocytes metabolise copper. Patton and her colleagues publish their results in Disease Models and Mechanisms on August 17, 2010 at http://dmm.biologists.org/.

Patton explains that zebrafish are a valuable research tool because they are an intermediate organism between mammals and the simpler creatures that scientists routinely use to study genetic disorders. She usually uses zebrafish to understand how melanocytes develop and how these cells can give rise to malignant melanoma, a lethal form of cancer. Testing compounds that she hoped might prevent malignant melanoma symptoms in zebrafish, she was puzzled to find a compound that caused the fish to lose their characteristic zebra-stripe patterns. After spending months trying to determine why the fish lost their stripes, she crossed paths with Jonathan Gitlin, a copper deficiency specialist from Vanderbilt University, USA, and realised that the stripeless fish might have copper deficiency.

To understand the molecular pathways involved in copper deficiency, Patton and Gitlin teamed up with Mike Tyers from the University of Edinburgh and developed an elegant method to probe copper metabolism in zebrafish. First, the team identified compounds that caused zebrafish to lose their stripes indicating copper deficiency. Next, they identified the genes that each compound targeted by applying the compounds to yeast cells. Patton explains that most of the genes that control copper metabolism are very similar in yeast, zebrafish and humans, so the genes identified in this study should increase our understanding of what makes certain people susceptible to copper deficiency.

The team found that mutations in certain proteins that move nutrients around cells (trafficking components) increase the risk that carriers will be susceptible to copper deficiency when the copper supply is restricted, such as after gastric bypass surgery. Patton says, "You might have people with polymorphisms [variations in a single gene] in some of these trafficking components that are fine, but under certain environmental conditions some of the weaknesses are revealed."

This work demonstrates the utility of the coupled zebrafish-yeast approach for studying copper deficiency, but it can also be applied for studying other complex multifactorial diseases, particularly those with an environmental component. "There have been some beautiful studies looking at transport components in melanocytes, which have linked copper metabolism pathways with transport. What's new here is that we can investigate a gene-environment interaction," says Patton, who hopes to apply the method for studying cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, a rare genetic disorder with crippling symptoms ranging from skin abnormalities to heart defects. In addition, her team plans to apply the method to investigate how drug candidates function in vivo.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sarah Allan
sarah.allan@biologists.com
44-752-876-8387
The Company of Biologists
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. EPA and other federal agencies collaborate to improve chemical screening
2. Evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreens could be toxic if accidentally eaten
3. Compound screening for drug development made simpler
4. Is prenatal screening for rare diseases like spinal muscular atrophy too costly?
5. Startup joins UCLA tech incubator to develop technologies for drug discovery, screening
6. Scripps Research scientists create new way to screen libraries of 10 million or more compounds
7. New bioanalytical methods have potential for investigative and screening applications
8. Rodent smoke screen
9. Many pregnant women avoid HIV screening in Africa
10. Statement of ESHRE on the European Commission proposal of viral screening
11. New Web site promotes interoperable newborn screening data
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016 On Monday, the Department ... industry to share solutions for the Biometric Exit Program. ... and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends to ... the United States , in order ... defeat imposters. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, allowing ... are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... YORK , June 2, 2016   The Weather ... is announcing Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers ... by being able to ask questions via voice or text ... Marketers have long sought ... the consumer, that can be personal, relevant and valuable; and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... Chapel Hill, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... June 27, ... ... of U.S. commercial operations for Amgen, will join the faculty of the ... will serve as adjunct professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences ... detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting ... cells (CTCs). The new test has already been ... in multiple cancer types. Over 230 ... damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target ... over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
Breaking Biology Technology: