Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein identified that can result in fragile bones

28.07.2010
Too little of a protein called neogenin results in a smaller skeleton during development and sets the stage for a more fragile bone framework lifelong, Medical College of Georgia researchers report.

A developing mouse with neogenin deficits has poorly defined digits and is generally smaller, including having small growth plates, an indicator of future development, said Dr. Wen-Cheng Xiong, developmental neurobiologist in the MCG Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies and corresponding author of the study published in Developmental Cell. Dr. Zheng Zhou, MCG assistant research scientist, is first author.

Their findings provide new insight into skeletal development as they point toward a potential new direction for treating osteoarthritis, a common, painful and debilitating condition where cartilage between bones is lost, Xiong said.

Neogenin doesn't make bone; rather, it forms a protein complex essential to turning on cartilage-producing genes, the researchers found. "Each cell type has a master gene. Neogenin is not that, it's more of a modulator," Xiong said. That's why, if it's mutated, like in the mouse, cartilage and bone formation is disrupted – not halted. It's also why neogenin could be a good therapeutic target for turning the tide on cartilage or bone loss that occurs in osteoarthritis, Xiong said.

Skeletal development occurs early, which is why pregnant women need so much calcium. Initially the skeleton consists of soft bone or cartilage, which attracts blood vessels as well as the osteoblasts that replace most cartilage with hard bone over time. After birth, growth plates, where hard and soft bone meet, enable bones to lengthen and children to grow. After puberty, growth plates go away and bone hardens except for cartilage at the joints that eases movement and provides cushion. While bone cells continue to turn over, bone growth and loss should balance each other out after puberty due to osteoclasts – cells that break down and resorb bone. Diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis occur when osteoclasts start winning. Nutrition, inflammation and hormones are among the many factors that impact bone's status.

Neogenin, which Xiong has shown helps direct neurons during brain development and aid in regulation of iron levels, is found throughout bone and cartilage and numerous other tissues. Its pervasiveness reflects its many functions, depending on the stage of life and location, she noted.

Xiong suspects the protein has multiple roles in adulthood as well, albeit slightly different ones. In adulthood, neogenin may become more of an overseer, keeping tabs on functions it influences, such as bone formation. It resumes an instigator role when something goes amiss.

"Every function in the body needs to be able to go up or down," Xiong said, noting that neogenin pathways are likely altered in disease. "I think in the disease condition this molecule could be changed. The pathways are altered, not eliminated, rather increased or decreased abnormally."

Treating problems such as osteoporosis, iron overload and anemia, would require drugs that could keep protein levels high. Meanwhile, she wants to confirm neogenin's influence on cartilage function in adulthood. "In late-stage arthritis, the cartilage function may be completely disrupted but early in the disease process, maybe there is a window for stimulating this protein."

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is also featured in a preview in Developmental Cell titled, "A Skeleton in the Closet: Neogenin Guides Bone Development."

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcg.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>