Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey

27.10.2008
Molecular switch shared by humans may also help immune cells locate infection sites

Amoebas glide toward their prey with the help of a protein switch that controls a molecular compass, biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered.

Their finding, detailed in this week’s issue of the journal Current Biology, is important because the same molecular switch is shared by humans and other vertebrates to help immune cells locate the sites of infections.

The amoeba Dictyostelium finds bacteria by scent and moves toward its meal by assembling a molecular motor on its leading edge. The active form of a protein called Ras sets off a cascade of signals to start up that motor, but what controlled Ras was unknown.

Richard Firtel, professor of biology along with graduate student Sheng Zhang and postdoctoral fellow Pascale Charest tested seven suspect proteins by disrupting their genes. One called NF1, which matches a human protein, proved critical to chemical navigation.

NF1 turns Ras off. Without this switch mutant amoebas extended false feet called pseudopodia in all directions and wandered aimlessly as Ras flickered on and off at random points on their surfaces. “You have to orient Ras in order to drive your cell in the right direction,” Firtel said.

In contrast, normal amoebas with working versions of NF1 elongate in a single direction and head straight for the most intense concentration of bacterial chemicals, the team reports.

The biochemical components of the system match those found in vertebrate immune cells called neutrophils that hunt down bacterial invaders, suggesting that the switch might be a key navigational control for many types of cells, Firtel said. “The pathway and responses are very similar and so are the molecules.”

The US Public Health Service funded this work.

Video (available here) pits mutant against normal amoeba in a race toward the scent of bacteria. A glow-tagged protein that binds only to the active form of Ras lights the leading edge of the normal cell as well as the misguided pseudopodia the mutant extends in random directions.

Susan Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

Further reports about: Amoebas Protein Ras amoeba amoeba Dictyostelium direction immune cell immune cells molecular motor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bioenergy cropland expansion could be as bad for biodiversity as climate change
11.12.2018 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

nachricht How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
11.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
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

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor

11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Topological material switched off and on for the first time

11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs

11.12.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>