Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists eavesdrop on the exciting conversations within cells

26.02.2009
Scientists have discovered the secrets of a sophisticated molecule that plays a role in many aspects of human health from fertility to blood pressure; digestion to mental health. This has opened up the potential for discovery of new drugs to treat an enormous variety of conditions.

In research supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Wellcome Trust a team from the University of Cambridge shows how a molecule – the IP3 receptor – arranges itself into clusters to help broadcast vital chemical messages around cells in the form of calcium. The work is published today (25 February) in Nature.

Team leader, Professor Colin Taylor said: "Almost everything a cell does is regulated by calcium, and we know there are many diseases in both humans and animals, such as stroke or an irregular heart beat, in which calcium regulation goes wrong. But the real puzzle is trying to understand how calcium – which is amongst the simplest of all chemicals – can manage to control lots of different things at the same time. What we have found is a crucial part of that puzzle.

"Imagine you're trying to find a dancing partner at a party. You might whisper the request to several people, or you might shout it out to everyone. Some of your handful of whispered requests might be ignored and some may have you heading for the dance floor. If you shout loud enough, everyone gets to decide whether to respond. It's rather similar with messages transmitted by calcium signals: they can evoke very different responses in cells depending on whether they are whispered or shouted."

The research published today shows that when cells are stimulated, their IP3 receptors receive instructions telling them to both gather into clusters and to open and allow calcium to pass. Furthermore, IP3 receptors behave very differently when they are alone as opposed to clustered, and these differences help determine whether the calcium signal is "whispered" or "shouted".

Professor Taylor continued: "The IP3 receptors that we work on are interesting because we've found that they can both whisper and shout. Lone IP3 receptors whisper, but when they get together they can shout – not just because their combined effort is bigger, but because the calcium they release stimulates their neighbours to release calcium as well.

"We need to understand fully how IP3 receptors work if we are to begin to think of them as future targets for drugs. The clustering that we have observed fills an important gap in this understanding and takes us a step closer to being able to design drugs for a number of important diseases where we know calcium regulation goes wrong."

Professor Janet Allen, Director of Research, BBSRC said: "There is still an awful lot we don't know about the way healthy humans work. Until we get to the bottom of how complex biological processes work, what it is about them that maintains health, and where the potential points of intervention might be when things go wrong, there will be many diseases that we will not be able to treat effectively. It is reassuring to see fundamental work going on that can deliver answers to these questions. We are delighted that Professor Taylor's group have been recognised for their achievements in this area and congratulate them on publication of their Nature paper."

Nancy Mendoza | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>