Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mapping of cancer cell fuel pumps paves the way for new drugs

29.04.2013
For the first time, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have managed to obtain detailed images of the way in which the transport protein GLUT transports sugars into cells.

Since tumours are highly dependent on the transportation of nutrients in order to be able to grow rapidly, the researchers are hoping that the study published in the scientific magazine Nature Structural & Molecular Biology will form the basis for new strategies to fight cancer cells.

In order to be able to fuel their rapid growth, cancer tumours depend on transporter proteins to work at high speed to introduce sugars and other nutrients that are required for the cell's metabolism. One possible treatment strategy would therefore be to block some of the transporters in the cell membrane which operate as fuel pumps, thus starving out and killing the cancer cells.

One important group of membrane transporters is the GLUT family, which introduces glucose and other sugars into the cell. Glucose is one of the most important energy sources for cancer cells and GLUT transporters have been shown to play a key role in tumour growth in many different types of cancer. In the current study, researchers from Karolinska Institutet have performed a detailed study of the way in which suger transport is executed by the protein XylE, from the Escherichia coli bacterium, whose function and structure is very similar to GLUT transporters in humans. For the first time, the researchers have described the way in which the protein's structure changes between two different conformations when it binds and transports a sugar molecule.

"In showing details of the molecular structure of the region that bind the sugar, our study opens up the opportunities to more efficiently develop new substances that may inhibit GLUT transporters", says Pär Nordlund at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, one of the researchers behind the study. "Information on the structure of the transport protein facilitates the development of better drugs in a shorter time. Such GLUT inhibitors could potentially be used to treat cancer in the future."

The study may be of significance not just to cancer research but also in the field of diabetes. GLUT plays a key role in diabetes since insulin works by activating the uptake of glucose from the blood by means of GLUT transporters in the cell membrane.

GLUT and the studied XylE transporter belong to the very large group of metabolite transporters called the Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS), which is important in many diseases and for the uptake of medicines in cells.

"Many aspects concerning molecular mechanisms for the function of GLUT transporters are probably common to many members of the MFS family, which are involved in a broad spectrum of diseases in addition to cancer and diabetes," says Pär Nordlund.

As well as membrane transporters, which have undergone in-depth analysis in the current study, many different membrane proteins pass through the surface membrane of the cells. Their significance to the cell function and the development of drugs has been noted before, not least through the Nobel Prizes that were awarded to researchers who used mechanistic and structural studies to map the function of two other major membrane protein families, G-protein-coupled receptors and ion channels.

The current study has been financed by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and The Danish Council for Independent Research.

Publication: 'Structural basis for substrate transport in the GLUT homology family of monosaccharide transporters', Esben M. Quistgaard, Christian Löw, Per Moberg, Lionel Trésaugues, and Pär Nordlund, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, online 28 April 2013, doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2569. EMBARGOED until Sunday 28 April 2013 at 18:00 UK time / 19:00 CET / 13:00 US ET.

Journal website: http://www.nature.com/nsmb

Contact the Press Office: ki.se/pressroom

Karolinska Institutet – a medical university: ki.se/english

Karolinska Institutet Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ki.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>