Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cellular Gates for Sodium and Calcium Controlled by Common Element of Ancient Origins

02.07.2014

Find likely to aid drug development

  • Sodium channels and calcium channels are molecular portals that allow controlled passage of ions across a cell’s membrane; they are required for healthy brain, heart and muscle function.
  • While these two types of portals are distinct molecular beasts, Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a long-unrecognized control feature common to both, a finding that promises new and unified approaches to related disease therapies.

All in the family: Sodium channels and calcium channels share common roots.

Manu Ben-Johny/Johns Hopkins Medicine

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have spotted a strong family trait in two distant relatives: The channels that permit entry of sodium and calcium ions into cells turn out to share similar means for regulating ion intake, they say. Both types of channels are critical to life. Having the right concentrations of sodium and calcium ions in cells enables healthy brain communication, heart contraction and many other processes. The new evidence is likely to aid development of drugs for channel-linked diseases ranging from epilepsy to heart ailments to muscle weakness.

“This discovery was long in coming,” says David Yue, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. His team’s report, which appears in the June 19 issue of the journal Cell, had its genesis in the 1990s with another group’s observation that sodium and calcium channels bear a striking resemblance in a small portion of an otherwise very different structure. “It looked like this ‘resemblance element’ might be a molecular time capsule derived from a primeval ion channel thought to have birthed distinct sodium and calcium channels a billion years ago,” Yue says.

... more about:
»Cellular »calmodulin »concentrations »drugs »ions »sodium

For calcium channels, Yue’s and other research groups found that the resemblance element supports an important function, preventing the channel from opening when the cellular calcium level gets high. This prevents too much calcium from building up within cells, much like a thermostat controls household temperatures. This calcium control requires a calcium-sensing molecule called calmodulin, which binds to channels within the resemblance element.

The picture for sodium channels, however, was muddier, with different researchers reporting conflicting findings about whether calmodulin and the resemblance element prevent the opening of sodium channels; perhaps the time capsule was damaged over the millenia or was never there.

Manu Ben-Johny, a graduate student in Yue’s laboratory, took up the question. “We thought that the conflicting results for sodium channels might be related to difficulties in existing methods to control the calcium concentrations that might affect these channels,” Ben-Johny says.

Looking for a new way to approach the problem, Yue’s team bound calcium ions in molecular “cages” that could be opened with a flash of light. This enabled them to “smuggle” calcium ions into cells and see what happened to sodium channels when the calcium concentration changed abruptly. They found that, as with calcium channels, increasing calcium concentrations caused calmodulin to bind within the resemblance element of sodium channels and prevent their opening, just as in calcium channels.

The implications of a common control element in sodium and calcium channels are vast, Yue says, including unified understanding of conditions that spring from defects in the calcium control of these channels. In addition, he says, “Researchers have long sought drugs that modulate sodium and calcium channels in new ways. Targeting the common control element offers a new frontier for developing next-generation pharmaceuticals.”

Other authors on the paper are Philemon S. Yang, Jacqueline Niu, Wanjun Yang and Rosy Joshi-Mukherjee, all of The Johns Hopkins University.

This study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (grant number R01 NS073874) and the National Institute of Mental Health (grant number F31MH088109).

Shawna Williams | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/cellular_gates_for_sodium_and_calcium_controlled_by_common_element_of_ancient_origins

Further reports about: Cellular calmodulin concentrations drugs ions sodium

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Desirable defects
30.04.2015 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

nachricht Rare Dune Plants Thrive on Disturbance
30.04.2015 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Erosion, landslides and monsoon across the Himalaya

Scientists from Nepal, Switzerland and Germany was now able to show how erosion processes caused by the monsoon are mirrored in the sediment load of a river crossing the Himalaya.

In these days, it was again tragically demonstrated that the Himalayas are one of the most active geodynamic regions of the world. Landslides belong to the...

Im Focus: Through the galaxy by taxi - The Dream Chaser Space Utility Vehicle

A world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is currently developing a new space transportation system called the Dream Chaser.

The ultimate aim is to construct a multi-mission-capable space utility vehicle, while accelerating the overall development process for this critical capability...

Im Focus: High-tech textiles – more than just clothes

Today, textiles are used for more than just clothes or bags – they are high tech materials for high-tech applications. High-tech textiles must fulfill a number of functions and meet many requirements. That is why the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC dedicated some major developing work to this most intriguing research area. The result can now be seen at Techtextil trade show in Frankfurt from 4 to 7 May. On display will be novel textile-integrated sensors, a unique multifunctional coating system for textiles and fibers, and textile processing of glass, carbon, and ceramics fibers to fiber preforms.

Thin materials and new kinds of sensors now make it possible to integrate silicone elastomer sensors in textiles. They are suitable for applications in medical...

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Dust from the Sahara Desert cools the Iberian Peninsula

30.04.2015 | Earth Sciences

Desirable defects

30.04.2015 | Life Sciences

Germany's DanTysk Offshore Wind Power Plant Inaugurated

30.04.2015 | Press release

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>