Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Hairy” Vehicles in 3D

19.05.2011
They move cells, process external signals or ensure the correct arrangement of the internal organs.

But the small hair-like structures at the surface of cells can only fulfill these tasks, if their transport system supplies them with all essential building blocks. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, now managed for the first time to decipher the three-dimensional structure of one part of this complex transport system. That way, they were able to gain important insights into its functional mechanisms. These results can possibly help to prevent pathogenic disruptions. (EMBO Journal, May 19, 2011)


The molecular structure of the two proteins IFT25 and IFT27 forming a macromolecular complex. Picture: Esben Lorentzen / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry

They are situated at the surface of eukaryotic cells and only five to ten micrometers (0.0005 to 0.001 centimeters) long: the cilia. As inconspicuous as these hair-like structures are at first sight, as important are the tasks they fulfill in the body. By distributing specific messenger substances during the development of the embryo, the cilia ensure the correct arrangement of the internal organs. Mistakes in ciliary function can thus result in situs inversus, a condition where the left/right arrangement of the inner organs in the body is reversed. Moreover, motile cilia give the sperm cells mobility and move the egg cells from the ovaries to the uterus along the fallopian tube. Functional disruptions can lead to infertility for men or to a dangerous pregnancy outside the uterus for women. The sensory cilium serves as the antennae of the cell by transmitting signals from the environment and, in doing so, permit different sensory perceptions. These sensory cilia are for example found on photoreceptor cells of the eye and on olfactory neurons. Damage to these types of cilia can thus lead to blindness or the loss of smell.

Although cilia fulfill various tasks, they all have a similar structure: Certain molecules that are essential for the buildup and the preservation of the functioning cilia are transported along a bundle of fibers in the interior of the cilium. Disruption of this transport system, which scientists call intraflagellar transport (IFT), can lead to errors during the assembly of the cilia and thus cause diseases with mental and physical disorders.

Even though the importance of IFT and the cilium to human health has been known for a long time, a structural and mechanistic understanding of IFT has been completely missing. Scientists from the research group of Esben Lorentzen studying “Structural Biology of Cilia” at the MPIB, now succeeded in resolving the structure of a key part of the IFT complex at the molecular level: With the aid of X-ray crystallography, they were able to map this part of the IFT complex in 3D and thus could analyze its structure and functional mechanisms.

“The part of the IFT complex mapped in our study plays an essential role for the regulation of the IFT process. Hence, our findings provide a first step to decipher and understand the structure and the underlying mechanisms of the whole IFT complex”, so says Sagar Bhogaraju, the PhD student at the MPIB who carried out the experiments. In turn, a better understanding of the transport system in the cilium could help to uncover the causes for disruptions and to prevent errors, say the scientists. In this way diseases which occur as a consequence of damaged cilia could potentially be inhibited one day. [UD]

Original Publication:
Bhogaraju, S., Taschner, M., Morawetz, M., Basquin, C. and Lorentzen, E. (2011), Crystal Structure of the Intraflagellar Transport Complex 25/27, EMBO Journal, May 19, 2011.
Contact:
Dr. Esben Lorentzen
Structural Biology of Cilia
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
E-Mail: lorentze@biochem.mpg.de
Anja Konschak
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Germany
Tel. +49 89 8578-2824
E-Mail: konschak@biochem.mpg.de

Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.biochem.mpg.de
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/en/rg/lorentzen/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>