Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Technique enables precise control of protein activity in living cells

28.06.2010
Cancer occurs when human cells move and multiply inappropriately. Within cells, a process called phosphorylation serves as an on/off switch for a number of cellular processes that can be involved in cancer, including metabolism, transcription, configuration, movement, cell death and differentiation.

This process is controlled by a group of enzymes called protein kinases that – working together and separately – modify the structure of proteins, changing them and allowing them to control cellular processes.

One of the challenges to understanding the actions and interactions of kinases within cells has been that the mechanisms scientists used to control the enzymes were not specific, often affecting more than one pathway within the cell.

In a paper published today in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Klaus Hahn, PhD, who is the Thurman Professor of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, describes a new technique called engineered allosteric regulation, which provides a new tool for scientists who study the interactions of proteins within living cells.

"Engineered allosteric regulation is a new method that provides precise control of kinase activity in living cells," said Hahn.

"We can now take the kinase of choice and precisely control the 'on/off' switch, thereby seeing what they are doing and how they control cell function. The technology has exciting applications in basic research, since kinases are the central regulators of almost every cellular process. The ability to precisely control the state and timing of kinase action within cells opens the door to a broad range of new scientific insights," he added.

"This ingenious method offers a powerful new approach for dissecting the diverse functions of kinases in living cells," said James Deatherage, PhD, who oversees cell biology grants at the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "The capacity to precisely control the activity of this important class of proteins in living cells is a transformational advance in our ability to understand their roles in normal processes like cell growth and development, as well as their part in triggering diseases like cancer."

Hahn explains that the mechanism of engineered allosteric regulation can be compared to the wheels on a car. A small part of each kinase molecule is key to its action within the cell. Attaching a protein engineered by Andrei Karginov to this part of the kinase causes the molecule to vibrate, keeping it from working well enough to control the cell just as loose bolts on a car wheel will keep the vehicle from moving forward effectively.

Scientists then use a drug to bind the engineered protein, tightening up the molecule and allowing the kinase to work normally – like tightening the bolts on a car wheel.

"It's very precise. Just as you can map which switch in the circuit box in your home controls specific lights and appliances, this mechanism controls specific kinases, allowing researchers to trace their action precisely within the cell," Hahn says.

Hahn predicts that the new technique will enable faster, less expensive study of cell signaling pathways implicated in cancer as well as a large range of human diseases and disorders.

Hahn points out that this was a highly collaborative effort, made possible only by combining the skills of UNC researchers from diverse disciplines. The research team from UNC includes molecular biologist Andrei V. Karginov, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, and computational biologists Feng Ding, Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Pradeep Kota, a graduate student in biochemistry and biophysics, and Nikolay V. Dokholyan, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH R01 GM057464) and the Cell Migration Consortium of the NIH (GM64346).

Ellen de Graffenreid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

Further reports about: NIH cellular process living cell pharmacology signaling pathway

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>