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UCI researchers find link between environment and genetics in triggering MS
Date:5/31/2011

rtually all proteins on the surface of cells, including immune and nervous system cells, are modified with complex sugars of variable lengths and composition. This adds information to proteins separate from that directly defined by the genome. The sugars interact with specific sugar-binding proteins on the cell, forming a molecular lattice that controls the clustering, signaling and surface expression of critical receptors and transporters, such as the T cell receptor and CTLA-4. Reducing sugar modification weakens the lattice and enhances growth and activity of immune system T cells in such a way that they increase neural degeneration a hallmark of MS.

Production of the complex sugars is regulated by both metabolic and enzymatic functions, the latter altered by genetic MS risk factors and vitamin D3. Demetriou pointed out that the MGAT1 genetic variant linked to MS increases or decreases the sugars attached to proteins depending on metabolism one possible explanation for why people with the same genetic risk factor may or may not develop MS.

These sugars have also been implicated in many other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, Demetriou added, so this work could open up entirely new areas of medicine.


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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

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