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
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
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...
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...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
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...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy