Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne discover serine as the hitherto unknown amino acid for protein modification, changing a 50-year-old paradigm.
Scientific achievements enlarge our knowledge about how things work and eventually enable us to understand details and even to predict the unknown.
Chemical structure of the amino acid serine, which is part of almost all proteins and the main target for ADP ribosylation. In the background a membrane with stained proteins.
©Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing
But sometimes the assumptions we make based on what we have already seen limit our perception and bias our approach to the new. This is exactly what happened with ADP ribosylation (ADPr), a particular protein modification that appears in every cell and is essential for almost all biological processes.
When a protein gets ADP ribosylated, it gets labeled with additional information. For example, an ADPr signal can be placed on a protein for the recruitment of vital factors to repair damaged DNA, the genetic information in cells. Like an alarm in case of an emergency, it marks the place where help is needed.
For half a century it was believed that ADPr modifies particular sites on proteins: the amino acids glutamate, aspartate, arginine and lysine. But the functional characterization of these identified sites showed very slow progress.
“We know the reason for this now: most of the sites were mis-localised” says Orsolya Leidecker, a scientist in the group of Dr. Ivan Matić from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing. Now the scientists have finally identified the amino acid serine as the major site of ADPr by using a new technique. Due to its chemical structure, serine was never really considered as a target, which makes this finding all the more exciting.
“It’s a little like the discovery of the structure of the DNA”, explains group leader Dr. Ivan Matić. “People had known for decades that there must be genetic information stored somewhere but didn’t know where or how. The field of ADPr modification was similarly slow to develop for lack of precise knowledge about which amino acid ADPr attaches to. Now we finally know exactly where this information sits.”
Additionally, the Matić group and their collaborators in Oxford have developed a simple method for validating serine ADP-ribosylated sites in cells, which enables any scientist to examine ADPr on their protein of interest. “Anybody in any lab can perform the experiment and investigate if the modification of their protein is on serine” says Leidecker, who contributed to the main part of the work.
Actually, the identification of the correct position of ADPr is only the beginning. Researchers can now investigate the impact of ADPr on proteins, understand their functionality and develop strategies to use this modification as a target for drug development. Targeting processes regulated by ADPr is already a very promising strategy in treatment of cancer and acute cardiovascular conditions.
The research was performed in collaboration with CECAD.
Dr. Annegret Burkert | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns
A new 'cool' blue
17.01.2020 | American Chemical Society
Neuromuscular organoid: It’s contracting!
17.01.2020 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.
Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...
In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.
The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...
Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...
Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich, ETH Zurich, Wyss Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed a machine that repairs injured human livers and keep them alive outside the body for one week. This breakthrough may increase the number of available organs for transplantation saving many lives of patients with severe liver diseases or cancer.
Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only a few hours. With the novel perfusion technology, livers - and even injured livers - can now...
A balloon-borne scientific instrument designed to study the origin of cosmic rays is taking its second turn high above the continent of Antarctica three and a half weeks after its launch.
SuperTIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder) is designed to measure the rare, heavy elements in cosmic rays that hold clues about their origins...
16.01.2020 | Event News
15.01.2020 | Event News
07.01.2020 | Event News
17.01.2020 | Life Sciences
17.01.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
17.01.2020 | Life Sciences