Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mutant Protein Developed By Hebrew University Scientists


A unique technique for neutralizing the action of the leptin protein in humans and animals – thereby providing a means for controlling and better understanding of leptin function, including its role in unwanted cell growth -- has been developed by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Three-dimensional structure of leptin. The region identified in the picture by numbers as amino acids 39, 40, 41, 42 underwent mutation that converted the normal leptin into an “antagonistic” version.

Leptin was discovered ten years ago and has attracted attention first because of its involvement in control of appetite and later by its effect on growth, puberty, digestion and immunological processes. Leptin can also have negative consequences, such as, for example, enhancing the spread of tumorous growths.

In his laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agricultural Food and Environmental Quality Sciences in Rehovot, Arieh Gertler, the Karl Bach Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry, along with his students, has developed a technique for genetically engineering mutations of the leptin protein. Prof. Gertler has been assisted in this work by graduate students Dana Gonen-Berger and Leonora Niv-Spector.and research assistant Gili Benyehuda.

In experimental work carried out cooperatively with researchers at the Agronomic Research Institute of France and the University of Paris VI, the scientists have developed a model showing which amino acids in leptin are responsible for activating leptin receptors in living cells. By replacing these amino acids with others, they were able to create a leptin variant that could bind with cell receptors, but would be unable to activate them, thereby providing a unique, novel research tool. In this way, the mutated leptin, with the substituted amino acids, acts as an “antagonist,” competing with the normal leptin for the “attention” of the cell receptors to which both leptins are attracted. The result is a “standoff” situation in which the normal leptin is neutralized.

Since leptin is involved in several cell functions, the development of this mutated “antagonistic leptin” could have significant consequences not only for better understanding of leptin action in animals but also on halting undesirable leptin effects in humans, such as undesired cell proliferation in cancer, or in controlling other pathological phenomena in which leptin is a factor.

Thus far, the researchers have succeeded in creating antagonists of human, sheep, rat and mouse leptins.

A company, Protein Laboratories Rehovot (PLR), that was formed by Prof. Gertler and the Hebrew University’s Yissum Research Development Company 18 months ago, was given the license to produce and market the mutated leptin products. Further development is currently being pursued towards testing whether leptin antagonists are capable of anti-cancer activity. This work is being pursued in cooperation with Prof. Nira Ben-Jonathan of the University of Cincinnati in the U.S., with the assistance of Prof. Gertler’s graduate student, Gila Ben Avraham.

Prof. Gertler has presented his work at a symposium of the Israeli Endocrinology Society and most recently at an international biotechnological conference in Miami, Fla., sponsored by the scientific journal Nature.

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>