Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Head in a Cage

11.06.2013
Fatty acid composition of diacylglycerols determines local signaling patterns

In the human body, lipids do not only serve as energy stores and structural elements, but they are also important signaling molecules. Disruptions of lipid signal transmission seem to be involved in diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes, as well as inflammation and pain.



In the journal Angewandte Chemie, researchers from Heidelberg have now reported on photoactivatable lipids that can be used to manipulate signaling processes in cells with both spatial and time resolution.

To communicate with each other and react to external stimuli, cells need signal-transmission mechanisms. The signal cascades involved are very complex and vary greatly from one cell type to the next. For example, one type of cascade involves the activation of phospholipase C, which then splits a membrane building block into inositol trisphosphate and the lipid diacylglycerol (DAG). These in turn serve as secondary messengers within the cell.

DAG anchors the enzyme protein kinase C (PKC) to the cell membrane and activates it. In addition, DAG can open certain calcium channels in the cell membrane, allowing calcium ions to flow into the cell. This stimulates further steps of the network and hence eventually trigger physiological responses, such as changes in gene expression.

Lipids as secondary messengers have received relatively little attention from researchers. Lipids consist of a head group and a “tail” made of a hydrocarbon chain that can vary greatly with regard to its length and the number, distribution, and arrangement of its double bonds. Previous investigations did not differentiate the effects of the different tails, only those of the heads.

Carsten Schultz and a team from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg have now taken on this challenge. They synthesized DAG lipids with a variety of tails and locked their glycerol heads into “cages” – molecules attached so as to block and deactivate the head group.

The cages are designed with a built-in “break-away” point that breaks open upon irradiation with light to release the DAG. These types of photoactivatable molecules make it possible to deliver biologically active signal molecules at a specific time and place with subcellular resolution.

Through these experiments, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the activation of PKC is locally limited by DAG, whereas the elevation of internal calcium ion concentration through activation of calcium channels affects the entire cell. Surprisingly, these effects seem to be dependent on the fatty acid composition of the lipid. One of the DAG variants thus induced fewer, shorter, and weaker elevations of the calcium level, while another caused stronger, long-lasting calcium signals. A third had no significant influence on the intracellular calcium concentration.

“If this variability concerning the fatty acid composition should influence the control of cellular processes in most lipids, a completely new level of complexity has to be considered in cell biology”, says Schultz. “Furthermore, our results demonstrate that cells can respond to a given spatially confined signal both with a local and a global response pattern. Local signaling is particularly important in polarized and migrating cells, where different signals are needed at opposite ends of the cell.”

About the Author
Dr Carsten Schultz is an interdisciplinary team leader and Senior Scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. His main research fields include the manipulation and visualization of intracellular signal transduction networks by using chemical biology, as well as the development of fluorescent detection systems, for example in applications concerning chronic lung disorders within the framework of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) in Heidelberg.
Author: Carsten Schultz, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (Germany), http://www.embl.de/research/units/cbb/schultz/members/index.php?s_personId=CP-60002438
Title: The Fatty Acid Composition of Diacylglycerols Determines Local Signaling Patterns

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201301716

Carsten Schultz | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>