We now begin to understand how signalling proteins recognize and transport to certain areas of the cell and get a more clear insight on the mechanism of major cellular processes such as cell signalling and growth. This valuable knowledge could be used in the future to understand and cure disease such as depression and Alzheimer's explains Associate Professor Dimitrios Stamou, Nano-Science Center and Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, who led the work.
Cells depend critically on their ability to selectively, transport and isolate proteins in specific areas. Earlier ideas that proposed proteins to move around in the cell by recognizing nanoscale patches in their surrounding membrane, also called lipid rafts, are currently under intense debate. However researchers from Nano-Science Center found a new unsuspected mechanism based on the shape of the membrane and just had their results published in the prominent scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology.Attractive curves on the nanoscale
- We were very surprised that it is the number of cracks in the membrane that determines how many proteins are bound. Up until now researchers in the field thought that the crucial element was the proteins ability and "desire" to bind to the membrane, also called the affinity. Our data speaks against that, explains Nikos Hatzakis, Nano-Science Center and Department of Chemistry.The model is general
- The moment we understood that the most critical parameter in our observations was membrane-shape we immediately thought that maybe we found a general mechanism that would apply to many other types of proteins apart from the ones we were studying. So we tested G proteins that are important signalling proteins attached to the membrane in a different way, using a lipid anchor. Our data confirmed that the model was indeed general, explains Vikram Bhatia, Nano-Science Center and Department of Nanoscience and Pharmacology.
- Unravelling the overarching importance of membrane-shape for the localization of literally hundreds of important signalling proteins will prove critical to our understanding of a plethora of biological process many of which are directly linked to important diseases, emphasises Associate Professor Dimitrios Stamou.
Dimitrios Stamou | EurekAlert!
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