Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cellular traffic control system mapped for the first time

06.06.2014

The transport routes of nutrients and messenger cargos can be compared to the traffic system of a city: A worldwide unique quantitative study of cell biologists of the University of Zurich shows that cells regulate the main routes, side routes and intersections by an intricate traffic control system, which guides the spatial and temporal distribution of substances within the cell.

Cells must transport nutrients and messenger cargos through its membrane and transport them within the cell at the correct time and place. This procedure is complex and is regulated with the help of specific genes. If disturbances in the transport mechanism arise, severe diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and diverse neurological pathologies, are the consequence.


The figure illustrates singles cells as city with intracellular roads. Traffic lights and signs necessary to guide the traffic flow are highlighted. picture: Sarah Steinbacher/UZH

The discovery of the molecular principles of cellular transport was honored with the Nobel Prize of physiology and medicine in 2013. While knowing the intracellular roads and the functioning of the cars that use these roads is essential knowledge, one cannot understand much of how a cell functions without knowing how all this traffic is regulated and controlled.

Cell and systems biologists of the University of Zurich could now create a first global map of the regulatory control systems of the majority of transport routes in a cell. This unique map has been published by the renowned scientific journal Cell as its cover story.

How cells uptake and transport cargos

Cells regulate the uptake of nutrients and messenger cargos and their transport within the cell. This process is known as endocytosis and membrane traffic. Different cargos dock onto substrate specific receptors on the cell membrane. Special proteins such as kinases, GTPases and coats, activate specific entry routes and trigger the uptake of the receptors into the cell. For their uptake, the receptors and docked cargos become enclosed by the cell membrane. In the next steps, the membrane invaginates and becomes constricted. The resulting vesicle is guided via several distinct stations, cellular organelles, to its final destination in the cell.

Cells regulate the main routes, side routes and intersections

For her study, Dr. Prisca Liberali, senior scientist in the team of Professor Lucas Pelkmans, sequentially switched off 1200 human genes. Using automated high-throughput light microscopy and computer vision, she could monitor and compare 13 distinct transport paths involving distinct receptors and cellular organelles. Precise quantifications of thousands of single cells identified the genes required for the different transport routes. Surprisingly, sets of transport routes are co-regulated and coordinated in specific ways by different programs of regulatory control.

Subsequently, Dr. Liberali calculated the hierarchical order within the genetic network and thereby identified the regulatory topology of cellular transport. “The transport into the cell and within the cells proceeds analogously to the cargo transport within a city” describes the scientist. “Like in a city, the traffic on the routes within a cell and their intersections is tightly regulated by traffic lights and signs to guide the cargo flow.”

Thanks to this unique quantitative map, the fine regulatory details of transport paths and processes within a cells could be mapped for the first time. Particularly the genes that encode for these traffic lights and switches are often de-regulated in disease. With this map, it is now possible to predict how this leads to traffic jams in the cells, causing the disease phenotype. Alternatively, since many drugs have been developed to target these traffic lights and switches, the map can be used to come up with possible drug combinations to target unwanted traffic, such as viruses, to the waste disposal system of the cell.


Literature:
Prisca Liberali, Berend Snijder, Lucas Pelkmans. A hierarchical map of regulatory genetic interactions in membrane trafficking. Cell. June 5, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.04.029

Contact:
Dr. Prisca Liberali
Institut für Molekulare Biologie
Universität Zürich
Tel. +41 44 635 31 94 / +41 77 459 57 53
E-Mail: prisca.liberali@imls.uzh.ch

Bettina Jakob
Media Relations
Universität Zürich
Tel. +41 44 634 44 39
E-Mail: bettina.jakob@kommunikation.uzh.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mediadesk.uzh.ch

Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich

Further reports about: Biologie Cell Cells Cellular Nobel drugs genes mechanism quantitative regulatory roads

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong Evidence – New Insight in Muscle Function
27.04.2015 | Austrian Science Fund FWF

nachricht Cell fusion ‘eats up’ the ‘attractive cell’ in flowering plants
27.04.2015 | Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (WPI-ITbM), Nagoya University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

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

Strong Evidence – New Insight in Muscle Function

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

The Future of Oil and Gas: Last of Her Kind

27.04.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny Lab Devices Could Attack Huge Problem of Drug-Resistant Infections

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>