Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Max Planck researchers describe new molecular shuttle service

19.11.2014

They are tiny and hairy and sit on almost all of our cells. Of course we are talking about cilia, protein structures that are key to numerous functions of our body.

If their assembly is incorrect or incomplete, patients are unable to hear and their kidneys would lose the ability to filtrate blood. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich-Martinsried have now been able to elucidate a fundamental mechanism mediating the transport of new building blocks to the cilia.


Once the BBSome has uptaken the protein supply for the cilium, ARL6 (green) binds to BBS1 (blue) thus directing the BBSome to its destination. Illustration: André Mourão & Monika Krause / Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry

“The mechanism we investigated can explain how the cell provides new material for the cilia and how failures in this process lead to diseases like deafness“, says André Mourão, first author of the study.

Cilia are tiny hair-like protein structures, which reside on the surface of almost all cells of both humans and animals. They carry out a number of important tasks, like the transmission of acoustic signals within the ear, optical signal in our eyes and the movement of sperm cells.

This indicates how important these structures are. However, it also emphasizes how diseases which affect the cilia can severely impair the life of the respective patients. Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS) is one such disease, in which affected individuals suffer from blindness and/or deafness, kidney failure and obesity.

Until now, researchers were able to find out that BBS is caused by alterations of a certain group of nineteen proteins (BBS1-19). In healthy cells these proteins constitute a molecular shuttle that transports new building blocks towards the cilia – the so-called BBSome.

In case the shuttle service does not work properly, the function of cilia is severely impaired. Researchers in the team of Esben Lorentzen at the MPI of Biochemistry recently identified the mechanism underlying the transport of the protein cargo in detail.

In the present study the scientists showed that the interaction of two particular proteins is necessary to deliver new building blocks to the cilia: Once the BBSome shuttle has uptaken its cargo, the molecule ARL6 is further needed to direct it to the cell surface where the cilia are located.

ARL6 docks to a certain part of the BBSome, the protein BBS1, making sure that the shuttle is carried towards its correct destination. According to the researchers this mechanism is conserved from humans to green algae. This is usually good evidence, that a feature is essential for survival.

A molecular shuttle gone astray

Esben Lorentzen gives an example, how crucial this mechanism is for our health: “Interestingly, 30 percent of all BBS patients have a mutation at a certain position of BBS1, the consquences of which were not fully understood before. We were now able to show, that this mutation affects the binding between ARL6 and BBS1, inhibiting the interaction of those two molecules.”

The scientists assume that this prevents the protein shuttle from being directed to its correct destination, subsequently leading to a lack of protein supply in the cilia and a loss of their function. In the future, the scientists hope to clarify whether other proteins are involved in the process and which potential roles they might play.
[HS]

Original publication:
A. Mourão, A.R. Nager, M.V. Nachury and E. Lorentzen: Structural basis for membrane targeting of the BBSome by ARL6. NSMB, November 17, 2014.
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2920

Contact
Dr. Esben Lorentzen
Intraflagellar Transport
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
E-Mail: lorentze@biochem.mpg.de
www.biochem.mpg.de/lorentzen

Anja Konschak
Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Am Klopferspitz 18
82152 Martinsried
Tel. +49 89 8578-2824
E-Mail: konschak@biochem.mpg.de
www.biochem.mpg.de


Weitere Informationen:

http://www.biochem.mpg.de/lorentzen  - Research grpup "Intraflagellar Transport"
http://www.biochem.mpg.de/news  - more press Releases of the MPI of Biochemistry

Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Switch-in-a-cell electrifies life
18.12.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Plant biologists identify mechanism behind transition from insect to wind pollination
18.12.2018 | University of Toronto

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>