A mechanism that permits essential substances to enter our cells while at the same time removing from them harmful components also has a “down side.” This negative aspect prevents vital drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, from achieving their designed functions, and also enables bacterial cells to develop resistance to penetration of antibiotics.
A study aimed at a fuller understanding of how this selective mechanism works -- with a view towards better controlling it through new drug designs -- is the subject of an article by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and German researchers that has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US (PNAS).
The trafficking of materials in and out of cells is controlled by a variety of proteins found in the membrane surrounding living cells, called “transporters.” It is these transporters that fulfill the important function of allowing entrance of vital compounds on the one hand and disposal of toxic compounds on the other hand.
While providing an essential survival strategy for the organism, the transporters that remove toxic compounds from the cell have been associated with the ability of the bacterial cell to develop resistance to antibiotics. In mammalian cells, transporters are responsible for some types of resistance of cancer cells to antineoplastic drugs (drugs against abnormal/cancerous growths).
Since this resistance poses serious problems in the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases, these proteins are an important target for drug design.
To progress in this pursuit, a more complete knowledge of the transporter mechanism is required, but despite many studies, this mechanism is not yet fully understood. It is, however, well established that an essential part of the mechanism stems from the ability of the transporter to change conformations. Thus, the binding site of a particular transporter is alternatively exposed either to the cell cytoplasm (interior) or to the outside environment, enabling the protein to bind its materials on one side of the cell and transport them to the other side.
The research conducted by the Hebrew University-German team focused at a model transporter expressed in the brain: VMAT (Vesicular MonoAmine Transporter). VMAT is known to transport a variety of neurotransmitters like adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. In addition, it can also transport MPP, a neurotoxin involved in models of Parkinson’s disease.
A functional and structural link between VMAT and bacterial transporters responsible for multidrug resistance may suggest a common origin for both types of proteins. A number of studies demonstrated the significance of VMAT as a target for drug therapy in a variety of pathologic states, such as high blood pressure, hyperkinetic movement disorders and Tourette syndrome.
The research was conducted by Shimon Schuldiner, the Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Professor of Biochemistry at the Hebrew University, and his research students Dana Yaffe and Yonatan Shuster, in cooperation with a group led by Dr Lucy Forrest at the Max Planck institute in Frankfurt, Germany, and her post-doctoral associate Sebastian Radestock.A computational method was used, allowing the development of a novel model, simulating the protein’s 3D structure. The model led to a series of biochemical experiments, which in turn provided a better understanding of the transporter’s conformational changes. Specifically, the research identified interactions within the protein that mediate the conformational changes.
The researchers hope that this knowledge may, in the future, help in designing drugs for treating pathologies involving transporters similar to VMAT, including infectious and neurological diseases.
CONTACT:Jerry Barach, Hebrew University Foreign Press Liaison
Jerry Barach | Hebrew University
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology