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UNC-Duke ties lead to collaborative finding about cell division & metabolism
Date:8/7/2011

hile, the scientific team was also redistributing itself, with Brady moving on to a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke and beginning to work with David Kashatus, PhD, a UNC-trained biochemist also working in Dr. Counter's lab. There, the team started to look into the 'odd' mitochondria, and found that the RalA protein is at the beginning of a chain of protein signals that regulate how the mitochondria distribute themselves in cell division. If these proteins are disrupted, the mitochondria don't divide properly during mitosis through a process called fission and don't distribute themselves proportionately within the 'daughter' cells. One result is a decrease in the level of the cellular 'fuel', ATP.

"This suggests a number of future avenues for inquiry," says Dr. Cox. "We know that cellular metabolism is regulated through this process. Now that we know more about its disruption, the team will examine cellular metabolism in normal cells compared to cells where mitochondrial fission and re-fusion have been disrupted. There are implications for a number of diseases including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, where we suspect that underlying cellular metabolism may play a role."

She adds, "As scientists and educators, one of our roles is to teach graduate students the principles of successful collaboration. The close proximity of strong universities like UNC and Duke promotes the exchange of ideas between labs and investigators, resulting in discoveries with high potential, like this one."


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Contact: Ellen de Graffenreid
edegraff@med.unc.edu
919-962-3405
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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