Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant substances govern cellular processes

12.10.2007
For the first time, scientists from Dresden proved that plant substances such as those found in red wine, soy, or green tea can accelerate or retard vital processes in cells.

These molecules bind to the protein actin which is implicated in cell movement and cell division. According to experimental results published recently in "Biophysical Journal" the ability of actin to join to long chains is either hindered or improved. Surprisingly, it has been shown that these substances also affect the rate at which genetic information is processed in the cell's nucleus.

A large family of plant pigments, the flavonoids, comprises over 6000 structurally related substances found in fruit and vegetables of our daily diet. They appear to evoke the positive health effects of green tea or red wine. However, their functional mechanisms are diverse and not well understood. This complicates the reliable assessment of their beneficial effects as well as possible health risks. Many scientists try to understand these mechanisms on a molecular level hoping to learn from nature in order to design new compounds that can be used in therapies of cancer or heart diseases.

The recent study reports two surprising results that are related to the binding of flavonoids to the protein actin. Actin is one of the best-studied and most abundant proteins. Together with other biomolecules, it enables muscle contraction, changing the cell shape, and separation of daughter cells during cell division. Two years ago, biologists from the Technische Universität Dresden were surprised to find that flavonoids can dock to actin in the nucleus of living cells (Publication No. 1). Now, together with the biophysics group at the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD), they proved in a test tube that flavonoids influence the growth of chains of actin molecules, a process that is linked to the cellular functions of actin (Publication No. 2). Flavonoids can strengthen or weaken this process. Astonishingly, the same dependency on flavonoids was observed for the speed at which the genetic material is read from the DNA in the cell nucleus. These results, according to Prof. Herwig O. Gutzeit from the TU Dresden, show that the direct biological effects of flavonoids on actin may also influence the activity of genes in a cell.

... more about:
»Cellular »Flavonoid »actin »bind »function »substances

The biophysicist Dr. Karim Fahmy from the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD) was able to demonstrate the molecular mechanism by which flavonoids can affect actin functions. The flavonoids function as switches that bind to actin and promote or inhibit its functions. Using infrared spectroscopy, Fahmy studied the interaction of actin with the activating flavonoid “epigallocatechin” and the inhibitor “quercetin”. This method is well-suited for demonstrating structural changes in large biomolecules without any interventions that may affect the extremely sensitive proteins. Upon addition of the selected flavonoids to actin, the structure of the actin changes in a dramatic and typical way. Depending on the type of flavonoid, the "actin switch" is set to increased or reduced functional activity.

The mechanism appears obvious to the scientists: the effects of the flavonoids are a function of their form. Actin itself is a flexible molecule, which explains why various flavonoids can bind to actin in a very similar way but nevertheless produce effects that range from inhibition to stimulation. Flexible flavonoids match the structure of the actin and create complexes that improve actin functions. More rigid flavonoids force the actin into a structure that is less compatible with its natural functions, thereby, inhibiting actin-dependent cellular processes. Simulations of flavonoid binding to actin performed in the bioinformatics group of Dr. Apostolakis at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich identified the putative site where flavonoids interact with actin. The collaborative and highly interdisciplinary efforts allowed to determine previously unknown structure-specific functional mechanisms of flavonoids. This knowledge facilitates the future search for compounds with improved effectiveness and specificity that can be used to modulate actin functions for therapeutic purposes.

Christine Bohnet | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fzd.de

Further reports about: Cellular Flavonoid actin bind function substances

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>