VIB researchers connected to Ghent University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven joined forces and have elucidated the function of MALT1, a key player in controlling inflammatory reactions. They are the first to show that MALT1 is able to cleave the A20 protein, which inhibits inflammation. Scientists hope that by counteracting MALT1 they will be able to restore the body’s natural inhibition of inflammation and thus provide an alternative for treatments that tax the immune system. This would represent a profound improvement over current medicines. Their research will be published in the authoritative journal Nature Immunology.
Raging out of control?
Inflammations are our normal protective reactions against infections - they arise to help remove pathogenic organisms from our bodies. This immune response is very precise and is only possible after a complex cascade of signals. Sometimes something goes wrong in this chain of reactions, and the inflammation process becomes uncontrolled or even triggers undesired immune responses against the body’s own substances. This can lead to auto-immune diseases such as rheumatism, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis, and, in some cases, to cancer. Reining in the runaway immune system is the most obvious remedy for these kinds of diseases. But the major challenge is to do this in such a way that the immune system continues to perform its protective role. And this requires a thorough understanding of the entire process.
Proteins with a crucial function
It has long been known that the MALT1 protein plays an important role in initiating inflammation reactions. That’s why VIB researchers Beatrice Coornaert (UGent), Rudi Beyaert (UGent), Thijs Baens (K.U.Leuven) and Peter Marynen (K.U.Leuven) set out to discover exactly what its particular role is. They have now succeeded in showing that MALT1 cuts the A20 protein into pieces. They are in fact the first to find that MALT1 is a protease (a protein that cleaves other proteins) and that A20 is the protein that is cut. In normal circumstances, A20 inhibits inflammatory reactions; and, by cleaving A20, MALT1 counteracts this inhibition, allowing the inflammation to progress freely. So, both proteins play very important parts in fine-tuning the intensity of inflammatory reactions.
Prospects for new treatments
Through their research, the VIB scientists are shedding light on an important part of the process that controls our immune response. Their findings offer possibilities for the development of new medicines that counteract MALT1 and thereby restore the natural ‘brake’ on the inflammation process. In this way, scientists hope to be able to provide an alternative for treatments that undermine the immune system. In addition, they hope to be able to apply this knowledge to the typical immunoreactions toward organ transplants or the treatment of cancer that is caused by genetic defects in MALT1, such as MALT lymphoma.
This research clearly shows the added value of combining expertise from different research groups. These important discoveries are the result of a close collaboration between researchers from the VIB Department for Molecular Biomedical Research (UGent) and the VIB Department of Molecular and Developmental Genetics (K.U.Leuven).
Sooike Stoops | alfa
A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates
20.08.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering