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New technology offers insight into cholesterol
Date:8/14/2014

Researchers from the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics at the University of Copenhagen have studied an important receptor protein called LDLR using new, groundbreaking techniques. The protein plays an important role in the absorption of the bad cholesterol, LDL.

The findings have just been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The key to major discoveries within the fields of health and diseases is not just hidden in the human DNA code. The proteins encoded by the genes also play an important role, not least the attached sugar chains which give the proteins an identity and handle important functions in the human organism. Researchers have now studied how LDLR is decorated with sugar molecules, so-called glycosylation modifications.

- We have not previously had a simple method for studying where glycosylation modifications are located on proteins in the body, because the sugars are very complicated and appear in different combinations. By removing the Cosmc protein, which is necessary for extending the sugar modifications, we have created cells with simplified glycosylations, which we call SimpleCells. The technique has enabled us to see 20 times as many sugar modifications on our proteins as were previously known, says PhD Nis Borbye Pedersen, formerly postdoc at the Copenhagen Center for Glycomics, now postdoc at the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

A surprising finding

An interesting finding of the study, characterised as a regular breakthrough by Nis Borbye Pedersen, is the discovery of which of the 20 almost identical enzymes is responsible for the so-called O-glycosylation, where the GalNAc sugar molecule is bound to the amino acids serine and threonine.

- So far, we have not really understood why the body has produced 20 more or less identical enzymes. We have now found out that only one of them seems to be involved in precisely these sugar modifications: GalNA
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Contact: Nis Borbye Pedersen
nis.pedersen@bio.ku.dk
45-35-33-04-51
University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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