“It’s a basic discovery, but with implications for understanding disease,” said Jonathan Scholey, professor of molecular and cellular biology at UC Davis and senior author of the study. Understanding how cilia are assembled and function can help scientists understand how conditions such as polycystic kidney disease and some growth and development disorders arise.
Cilia are built from bundles of microtubules made of a protein called tubulin. Scholey’s team discovered how two subunits of tubulin are winched into place by a type of protein motor belonging to a family of proteins called kinesins.
Scholey’s laboratory works with the soil roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, whose cilia are essentially the same as those of humans and other mammals. Postdoctoral scholar Limin Hao, Scholey and their colleagues screened a collection of worms for those with mutations that affected the cilia.
They found two genes which, when mutated, caused worms to lose the tips of their cilia. Both genes turned out to be subunits of tubulin that are assembled into different parts of the microtubule: one is found all along the microtubule, and the other is concentrated at the tip.
The UC Davis team used a combination of microscopy, molecular biology and computer modeling to study these two proteins. They found that both are moved into position by so-called kinesin-2 motors.
At one time, researchers had seen cilia as purely for movement, either moving a swimming cell through a fluid or moving fluid and suspended particles over the cell’s surface, Scholey said.
But in the late 1990s, researchers discovered that cilia were also involved in detecting signaling molecules that control gene expression and cell behavior. This signaling is vital for coordinating cell growth and the orderly development of tissues, for example in establishing left/right asymmetry in developing embryos.
“Recent work shows that cilia are ubiquitous in signaling,” Scholey said. In earlier work, Scholey’s lab linked a defect in the kinesins that assemble cilia to Bardet-Biedl disease, which causes blindness, kidney disease and learning difficulties.
Coauthors of the paper are: Melanie Thein, Ingrid Brust-Mascher, Gul Civelekoglu-Scholey and Seyda Acar, all at UC Davis; Yun Lu and Shai Shaham, Rockefeller University, New York; and Bram Prevo, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands, who was a visiting scholar in Scholey’s laboratory. Hao is now a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Thein is now a writer/editor at the UC Davis Cancer Center. The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.Media contact(s):
Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, email@example.com
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy