Autophagy is a fundamental recycling process in which intracellular enzymes digest unneeded and broken parts of the cell into their individual building blocks, which are then reassembled into new parts. The role of autophagy is crucial both in keeping cells healthy and in enabling them to fight different diseases. Physician scientists in UT Southwestern’s Center for Autophagy Research are deciphering how to manipulate the autophagy process in an effort to disrupt the progression of disease and promote health.
In their latest findings reported online in the journal Nature, Center researchers were able to synthesize a peptide called Tat-beclin 1, which induces the autophagy process. Mice treated with Tat-beclin-1 were resistant to several infectious diseases, including West Nile virus and another mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya that is common to Asia, Africa, and India. In additional experiments, the team demonstrated that human cells treated with the peptide were resistant to HIV infection in a laboratory setting.
“Because autophagy plays such a crucial role in regulating disease, autophagy-inducing agents such as the Tat–beclin 1 peptide may have potential for pharmaceutical development and the subsequent prevention and treatment of a broad range of human diseases,” said Dr. Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research and senior author of the study. Dr. Levine, Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern.
Disruption of the autophagy process is implicated in a wide variety of conditions including aging, and diseases, including cancers, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and infectious diseases such as those caused by West Nile and HIV viruses.
UT Southwestern has applied for a patent on Tat-beclin-1. Peptides are strings of amino acids found in proteins. The Tat-beclin 1 peptide was derived from sequences in beclin 1, one of the first known proteins in mammals found to be essential for autophagy, a finding that was made by Dr. Levine’s laboratory. Her research has since demonstrated that defects in beclin 1 contribute to many types of disease. Conversely, beclin 1 activity and the autophagy pathway appear to be important for protection against breast, lung, and ovarian cancers, as well as for fighting off viral and bacterial infections, and for protecting individuals from neurodegenerative diseases and aging.
The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the HHMI, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research-Earth and Life Sciences Open Program, Cancer Research United Kingdom, and a Robert A. Welch Foundation Award.
Other UT Southwestern scientists involved include Dr. Sanae Shoji-Kawata, first author and former postdoctoral researcher now in Japan; Dr. Rhea Sumpter Jr., an instructor of internal medicine and member of the autophagy center; Dr. Matthew Leveno, assistant professor of internal medicine and autophagy center member; Dr. Carlos Huerta, former postdoctoral researcher of biochemistry now at Reata Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Nick Grishin, professor of biochemistry and HHMI investigator; Dr. Lisa Kinch, bioinformatics scientist; Zhongju Zou, research specialist; and Quhua Sun, computational biologist.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego; Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego; Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Cancer Research UK, London; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; the Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; the HHMI; and University of California, Berkeley, also participated in the study.About UT Southwestern Medical Center
Russell Rian | Newswise
Further reports about: > Cancer > Gates Foundation > HHMI > Medical Wellness > Medicine > Nile Delta > Peptid > Southwestern > Tat-beclin > Tat-beclin-1 > amino acid > autophagy > bacterial infection > building block > degenerative disease > diseases > doctoral research > human cell > infectious disease > infectious outbreaks > neurodegenerative disease > ovarian cancer
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy