Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


“Super” Enzyme Protects Against Dangers of Oxygen

Just like a comic book super hero, you could say that the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD1) has a secret identity.

Since its discovery in 1969, scientists believed SOD1’s only role was to protect living cells against damage from free radicals. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have discovered that SOD1 protects cells by regulating cell energy and metabolism. The results of their research were published January 17, 2013, in the journal Cell.

Transforming oxygen to energy for growth is key to life for all living cells, which happens either through respiration or fermentation. When oxygen is plentiful, respiration normally takes over; however certain cells fail to respire in spite of abundant oxygen and instead ferment, leading to uncontrolled cell growth—a hallmark of cancer.

Using the baker’s yeast S. cerevisiae as well as a human cell line, researchers Valeria C. Culotta, PhD, and colleague Amit Reddi from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology determined that SOD1 transmits signals from oxygen and glucose to repress respiration. This signaling is accomplished through SOD1 protection of another enzyme known as casein kinase 1-gamma (CK1ã), which is an important key to the switch between respiration and fermentation.

“SOD enzymes are present in virtually all living cells, from the most ancient bacteria to every cell in the human body,” explained Culotta. “I’ve been telling my students to think of SOD1 as a superhero. It not only defends cells from damaging free radicals, but also has a secret life as a guardian of cell energy and metabolism.”

“Our findings provide new clues as to how rapidly dividing cells—from yeast to human cancers—may escape the urge to respire and instead choose fermentation to promote rapid growth,” said Culotta.

“SOD1 has long been recognized as an important enzyme in protection from oxidative stress, but this work establishes an important new function for the enzyme in cellular metabolism,” said Vernon Anderson, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partly funded the study. “The results provide important insight into how SOD1 and oxygen radicals push cellular energy metabolism towards fermentation, a feature of some disease states, including cancer.”

“SOD1 Integrates Signals from Oxygen and Glucose to Repress Respiration” was written by Amit R. Reddi and Valeria C. Culotta.

The research was supported by the JHU National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Center and from the National Institutes of Health grants GM050016 and GM093550.

Image courtesy of artist Clem Cizewski and Valeria Culotta.

Media contact: Tim Parsons, director of Public Affairs, at 410-955-7619 or

Tim Parsons | EurekAlert!
Further information:

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 >>>