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UCLA researchers uncover new cell biological mechanism that regulates protein stability in cells
Date:12/23/2010

ism."

When cells receive Wnt, it's a signal for cells to degrade their proteins more slowly, to keep them for a longer period of time because they're needed to regulate cell functions, such as proliferation. Wnt signaling, for example, is very high in all stem cells and rises during the regeneration of most tissues, De Robertis said.

"Perhaps one of the functions of Wnt is to stabilize certain cell functions and it may be that cancer needs higher protein stability than other cells, which is why increased Wnt signaling if found in so many cancers," De Robertis said. "These findings may give us new therapeutic targets for preventing sequestrations inside these membranes, which would decrease Wnt signaling."

De Robertis said this study also links two formerly unrelated areas of biology. The cell cytoplasm is filled with internal membranes that shuttle proteins to their final destinations. Cells in tissues communicate with their neighbors by receiving external signals called growth factors. The new work links the cell biology of membrane trafficking and the interpretation of the signals that control cell proliferation.

"Protein degradation is a very important part of the life of a cell. About 10 percent of the genes in the genome are dedicated to protein degradation," De Robertis said. "We now know that Wnt causes an enzyme that degrades proteins to be sequestered and because of that becomes a regulator of cellular protein stability."

De Robertis characterized this finding as "very unexpected."

"No one thought you could have cell signaling through sequestration of an enzyme inside a membrane organelle like these multivesicular bodies," he said. This is because the GSK3 enzyme is normally found everywhere in the cell, but becomes tightly bound to the internal side of membrane receptors when the Wnt signal is received.


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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert  

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