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 New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors
29.06.2017 | University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

nachricht Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy
29.06.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

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...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

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...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

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...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>