Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study of thyroxine transporter molecule shows how key hormone hitches a lift round body

15.05.2003


Findings may aid the development of drugs to treat thyroid disorders



Structural analysis has revealed for the first time how a key messenger in the body’s chemical communication system hooks up with one of the proteins that delivers it to sites of action in the body.

Using X-ray crystallography, scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Hawaii have identified the location of four binding sites on human serum albumin (HSA), the principal protein in blood plasma, to which the chemical messenger thyroxine attaches.


Thyroxine is the primary hormone released from the thyroid gland, and acts on nearly every cell in the body affecting important mechanisms that control, weight, energy level, memory and heart rate.

While HSA is not the major transporter of thyroxine, its quick and direct action provides the most ready supply of the hormone for use around the body.

The findings, which are published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, help to explain how thyroxine regulates metabolic processes and normal physical development, and may aid the development of drugs to treat thyroid disorders.

The structural information also sheds light on the molecular basis of a rare condition, familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxemia (FDH), which is caused by mutations in HSA. This harmless genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as an overactive thyroid gland and treated inappropriately.

Dr Stephen Curry of Imperial’s Department of Biological Sciences and senior author of the study said:

"Our study provides a more complete understanding of how thyroxine binds to HSA. Previously the number and location of binding sites on HSA was not clear. This structural information can now be used to help design synthetic forms of thyroxine to treat thyroid disorders. It will allow more detailed analysis of how the two molecules interact in the body, which can be used to make more effective candidate drugs."

HSA is the most abundant protein in the circulatory system. Its principal function is to transport fatty acids, but it is also one of three proteins that delivers thyroxine.

Levels of thyroxine circulating in the body are used as a biochemical indicator to help gauge how active the thyroid gland is. The researchers sought a better understanding of how the hormone binds to the proteins that transport it in order to improve diagnosis of the various thyroid disorders.

Together with colleagues in Hawaii, the Imperial team, who are the main academic research group in the world working on albumin structures, examined the crystallised structure of HSA bound to thyroxine under three different conditions: in the presence or absence of fatty acids and using mutant forms of HSA.

"The shape of the HSA-thyroxine complex alters dramatically when fatty acids bind to the protein," explained Dr Curry. "The main difference is that when fatty acids are present, their binding creates a new binding site.

"This is an unprecedented example of the complex interplay between the binding of fatty acids and thyroxine to the protein. Although fatty acids and thyroxine compete with one another to bind to several sites on the protein, there is also an element of cooperation through the creation of an additional binding site for the hormone. "The interaction between the FDH causing mutant forms of HSA and thyroxine increases the binding affinity between the two molecules 10 to 15 fold. People with this condition present with normal levels of thyroxine that is not bound to transporter proteins but when the total level of thyroxine is looked at it’s much higher. Our research will allow a more accurate diagnosis of this condition in the future."

The research was supported by the American Heart Foundation, Hawaii Affiliate and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK).


For further information, please contact:

Judith H Moore
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: 44-207-594-6702
Mobile: 44-780-388-6248
E-mail: j.h.moore@imperial.ac.uk

Judith H Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ic.ac.uk/
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes
24.04.2017 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

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

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

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...

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

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>