Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ghost protein leaves fresh tracks in the cell

01.11.2006
Spectrin and ankyrin are two essential proteins acting like bricks and mortar to shape and fortify cell membranes. But distinguishing which protein is the brick and which is the mortar has turned out to be difficult. New evidence suggests that spectrin can do both jobs at once.

Ron Dubreuil, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, reports the finding in the Oct. 23 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.

Spectrin was first discovered in red blood cells, where it forms a protein scaffold under the cell's membrane. It was named for its ability to maintain the shape of cell "ghosts," which have been emptied of their contents. Ankyrin serves as the mortar that attaches spectrin to the red blood cell membrane.

Dubreuil and his UIC co-workers have spent a decade looking at different types of cells -- mostly epithelial -- trying to learn what cues tell spectrin where to assemble in cells. They use the fruit fly as their test animal because its genetic makeup has many striking similarities to humans.

... more about:
»Dubreuil »Membrane »ankyrin »spectrin

"In our study, we showed spectrin doesn't have to bind to ankyrin to do its job," said Dubreuil. "This hints at a complexity we never had any idea about in trying to understand how these molecules work."

Dubreuil and his colleagues initially assumed that ankyrin was the key to targeting spectrin in all cells. But research in many laboratories had failed to find a cue for targeting that acted through ankyrin, so Dubreuil reworked his hypothesis.

"We decided to throw out our assumptions and start fresh," he said.

A laboratory fly was genetically engineered so that spectrin could no longer bind to ankyrin -- which, Dubreuil assumed, meant that spectrin should no longer attach to the membrane.

"We thought that was going to kill the function of the protein," he said, "but it didn't affect the ability of the protein to reach its destination at all. The molecule targeted correctly to the cell membrane." In fact, the genetically engineered flies often survived to adulthood, while mutants that lacked spectrin altogether died very early in development.

Meanwhile, Dubreuil discovered that another region of spectrin, called the PH domain, unexpectedly played an critical role. Removing the PH domain left spectrin unable to bind to the membrane in certain cells, and those flies died.

Dubreuil's research seeks to clarify how these proteins function in different cells. The hope is that researchers may one day create therapeutic molecules to compensate for genetic lesions in diseases such as hereditary anemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cardiac arrhythmia and the degenerative brain disease spinocerebellar ataxia 5.

"As we learn more about mutations involving spectrin and their relationships to human diseases, we're going to have more and more questions about how these mutations affect specific functions of the molecule," he said.

Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uic.edu

Further reports about: Dubreuil Membrane ankyrin spectrin

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>