Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have discovered kinks in aggrecan, a widely studied protein at the submolecular root of arthritis, a finding that brings scientists closer toward new drugs and other interventions to prevent or alleviate the disease.
"Aggrecan acts to organize and densely pack sugar molecules that give cartilage its resilience," said Steven Eppell, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Nanoscale Orthopedic Biomaterials Laboratory at CWRU. "Our research shows that aggrecan is sharply bent in specific places and more flexible in other regions, and that the kinked areas may be more susceptible to the enzymes that degrade cartilage in osteoarthritis."
Eppell worked with Brian A. Todd and Jayan Rammohan, graduate students in the CWRU department of biomedical engineering, using funding from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Research. The researchers examined the protein structure using an atomic force microscope in the Center for Cardiovascular Biomaterials at CWRU. Using sophisticated image processing, the team mapped images of aggrecan onto the human genome and discovered that the kinks in their images lined up with places where aggrecan gets degraded in osteoarthritis. The result provides a link between aggrecans structure and its function in health and disease.
"Clarifying the functions of more than 30,000 proteins that make up the proteome is a major challenge in the wake of the human genome project," Eppell said. "Studying human proteins and discovering how they interact inside their microscopic three dimensional world is a path leading scientists closer to linking a disease with its genetic characteristics. Trailblazing these paths requires us to investigate these proteins, one at a time, to learn how they interact inside their own three-dimensional world and in the body."
According to the National Institutes of Health, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. The disease causes joint pain and limited movement because the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away and allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint. Currently there is no well-accepted theory for what causes this disease.
"We are working vigorously to link the biological and mechanical properties of cartilage with its molecular structure," Eppell said. "Ultimately, we are in search of clues that lead to intelligent drug design and other interventions to prevent or alleviate arthritis."
Marci E. Hersh | EurekAlert
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences