Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The ’upstairs/downstairs’ mystery of cell suicide is burdened by too much evidence

10.10.2005


Researchers know that the many different roads to cell suicide all run through mitochondria, but do not know which roads are the ones most traveled by the signals that signify death



The story of how mitochondria are recruited during times of stress to choreograph apoptosis--the cell’s dance of death--is a story that fails to tell which particular set of steps the cells use most often, according to investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology (San Diego, CA).
Mitochondria are sacs of enzymes in the cell that extract energy from food and store this energy in the high-powered chemical bonds of molecules called ATP. Virtually all activity of cells requires energy supplied by ATP, which acts as the "currency" with which the cell "buys" chemical reactions.

The fact that more than 100,000 research papers on apoptosis have been published is ironic, since this vast amount of information contributes to the confusion over which signaling pathways are most important for triggering this process, according to Douglas R. Green, Ph.D., chair of Immunology at St. Jude and holder of the Peter C. Doherty Endowed Chair of Immunology. Green is senior author of an editorial on apoptosis that appears in the October 7 issue of Science.



Apoptosis is the orderly process that both sculpts developing organisms out of a mass of replicating cells and disposes of irreparably damaged, mutated or infected cells. For example, cells that suffer DNA mutations that cannot be repaired undergo apoptosis to prevent them from forming a tumor.

Understanding the fine points of apoptosis is important to researchers seeking ways to control this process, Green said. Among the many therapeutic applications of such control would be triggering cancer cells to commit suicide. "But we can’t design definitive treatments until we understand which pathways leading to apoptosis are the most important," Green said.

The major event in apoptosis is the breakdown of the membranes of the mitochondria. This breakdown allows certain proteins to spill out of the mitochondrion and help form a suicide switch called the apoptosome. Some of the critical steps in apoptosis occur before that breakdown of the mitochondria, that is, "upstairs" from the mitochondria, Green said. The other critical steps occur after, or "downstairs" from the mitochondria, he added.

"Based on all the information available, you could conclude that an enormous number of molecules and pathways trigger apoptosis," Green noted. "So we need to identify the most important series of steps in this process. Otherwise we might concentrate too much of our attention on relatively unimportant byways on the road to apoptosis and miss the major highways."

Carrie Strehlau | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stjude.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

nachricht How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation

18.01.2017 | Information Technology

Reducing household waste with less energy

18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>