pH is a measure of acidity or basicity. Cells need to maintain pH in order to perform their normal cellular functions. However, the mechanisms by which cells monitor pH were unknown.
"Scientists have known that specific proteins can detect changes in pH under certain circumstances," says Chris Loewen, an assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences in the UBC Faculty of Medicine and a member of the UBC Life Sciences Institute. "But we found that a specific phospholipid, or fat, called phosphatidic acid, which is present in all cells, is actually responsible for detecting pH."
The findings are published today in the journal Science.
"Using brewer's yeast as a model, we found that, when deprived of nutrients, the resulting decrease in cellular pH affected the chemical state of phosphatidic acid. This in turn altered gene expression and cellular metabolism," says Dr. Loewen, who is also a member of the Brain Research Centre at UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
The new findings have important implications for understanding human metabolism and disease because lipid structure and function are very similar amongst all organisms. Further work is needed to explore the implications of this discovery for other areas, such as tumour progression – because both phosphatidic acid and pH play important roles in this process – and brain research – because brain cells dynamically change their cellular pH, implying they, too, use a pH sensor.
The study also involved co-authors from the United States, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland. It was funded by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund and the Tula Foundation.
Brian Lin | EurekAlert!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy