The study, which was directed by Scripps Research Professor Benjamin Cravatt, Ph.D., is being published in the September 8 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The new study describes a pathway-different than the one previously suggested-for the biosynthesis of neurotransmitter lipids, N-acyl ethanolamines (NAEs), which include the endogenous cannabinoid ("endocannabinoid") anandamide. The high activity of the enzyme a/b hydrolase4 (Abh4) in areas such as the central nervous system suggests that the pathway makes a "potentially major contribution" to endocannabinoid signaling.
Endocannabinoids are naturally produced substances similar to the active ingredient D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana. Cannabinoid receptors were first discovered in 1988; the first endocannabinoid, anandamide, which shares some of the pharmacologic properties of THC, was identified in 1992.
Other research has shown that the endogenous cannabinoid system helps control food intake, among other critical processes, by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system. The system drives consumption of fat and calorie-rich foods and the amount of fat stored or expended and plays a significant role in energy homeostasis.
"At least one cannabinoid receptor antagonist is on the verge of approval for the treatment of obesity-metabolic disorders," said Cravatt. "Enzymes involved in endocannabinoid biosynthesis, such as the one highlighted in our study, can be viewed as complementary drug targets. One potential advantage of this approach is that it may prove more selective than a receptor antagonist. By inhibiting enzymes such as Abh4, we may be able to disrupt the activity of a single class of endocannabinoids, rather than all of them."
In the new study, the researchers provide biochemical evidence of an alternative pathway for NAE biosynthesis in vivo and demonstrate that these new routes are especially important for the creation of a number of NAEs, including anandamide. The researchers also isolated and identified the enzyme Abh4 by combining traditional protein purification and functional proteomic technologies, concluding that Abh4 "displayed multiple properties" that would be expected of an enzyme involved in NAE biosynthesis.
However, the authors of the study noted, the unique contribution that this Abh4-mediated route makes to the production of NAEs in vivo is yet to be determined and will require "the generation of genetic or pharmacological tools that selectively [interrupt] this pathway."
"The continued pursuit of additional enzymes involved in NAE biosynthesis should further enrich our understanding of the complex metabolic network that supports the endocannabinoid/NAE system in vivo," Cravatt said. "From a therapeutic perspective, any of these enzymes could represent an attractive drug target for a range of human disorders in which disruption of endocannabinoid signaling by cannabinoid receptor antagonists has proven beneficial."
Keith McKeown | EurekAlert!
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences