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CSHL scientists discover new details of a gene-regulatory network governing metabolism
Date:2/22/2008

whose involvement previously had been overlooked.

The unexpected molecule is called NADP. The team discovered that when a yeast cell changes from using glucose, a simple sugar, as a nutritional source to using galactose, a more complex sugar often found in dairy products and vegetables such as sugar beets, NADP is called into action. It docks to a protein called Gal80p, which acts along with a gene regulating-protein called Gal4p, to adapt the metabolism of the yeast cell so that it can make use of galactose.

Importantly, changes in cellular levels of NAD, a close relative of NADP, had previously been linked to a gene circuit that controls aging and longevity in a large number of different organisms, including yeast but also including animals, said Professor Rolf Sternglanz of Stony Brook University in New York, a co-author of the study.

Why The Regulatory Cascade Is Important

It is becoming increasingly clear that the metabolic state of a cell is linked to the expression of its genes in a way that impacts biological processes of many kinds, ranging from cancer to aging, said Dr. Joshua-Tor. The biochemical cascade identified by the team is part of a complex chain of events whose object is regulation of the output of specific genes.

Not only does the teams work help explain how links in that gene-regulatory chain are constructed. Gene-regulatory proteins impact every property of a cell and have long been recognized as possible targets for drugs, said Dr. Joshua-Tor. However, these types of proteins have proven resistant to the chemistry of modern drug design. A detailed understanding of how gene regulatory proteins are controlled may offer new and unanticipated opportunities to design drugs that would impact this class of proteins.


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Contact: Jim Bono
bono@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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