Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Plant substances govern cellular processes

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:

Further reports about: Cellular Flavonoid actin bind function substances

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

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...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

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...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>