Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The big clean up after stress

25.05.2018

When cells become stressed, they activate specific response patterns. Würzburg researchers have identified new details of these responses, which can help to get a better understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

Toxic substances, nutrient shortage, viral infection, heat and many other events trigger stress responses in cells. In such cases, the affected cells launch a programme which tries to protect them against stress-related damages. They usually ramp down the production of endogenous proteins to save resources which they later need to repair cell damages or to survive under the stress conditions for some time.


Microscopic colour image showing cells with normal (green dots) and abnormal (yellow dots) stress granules.

Photo: Team Buchberger

Stress granules are a visible sign of such stress reactions: The small granules consisting of numerous proteins and messenger RNAs build up inside the cell when protein production is suspended. Once the stress is over, the cell takes up its regular operation again and eliminates the stress granules. But if this clearance process does not work according to plan, serious consequences can arise.

Recent studies show that stress granules are suspected to at least contribute to two incurable neurodegenerative diseases: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which causes muscle atrophy and lethal palsy in its final stages, and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common type of dementia in people under the age of 65.

Published in "Molecular Cell"

The scientists from the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg have now uncovered new details of the clearance process of stress granules. The study was headed by biochemist Professor Alexander Buchberger. The lead author is Ankit Turakhiya, a member of Research Training Group GRK2243 "Understanding Ubiquitylation:

From Molecular Mechanisms to Disease". Other contributors were Professor Andreas Schlosser from the Rudolf Virchow Center of the University of Würzburg and Professor Kay Hofmann (University of Cologne). The scientists present the results of their research in the current issue of Molecular Cell.

"We were able to demonstrate that the ZFAND1 protein is necessary for the normal clearance of the stress granules. When ZFAND1 is absent, some granules cannot be dissolved and change their structure as a result. These abnormal stress granules then have to be disposed of by autophagy, the cellular waste collection service, in a complex process," Alexander Buchberger sums up the central result of the new study. However, ZFAND1 does not directly impact the elimination process. Instead, it recruits a special enzyme complex required to eliminate defective proteins, the so-called proteasome, bringing it together with the stress granules.

An unexpected discovery

Buchberger explains that they had been surprised to find that the proteasome plays such a prominent role in eliminating the stress granules. He says that until now researchers had assumed that defective proteins at stress granules are eliminated together with the latter by autophagy – an assumption the biochemists were able to correct in their study.

What may appear to be mere fundamental research with little practical relevance to the layperson is in fact highly relevant for medical research. "The accumulation of abnormal stress granules is considered to be a potential cause of neurodegenerative diseases," Buchberger explains. He therefore believes that it is vital to clarify how stress granules are formed and eliminated in order to better understand the pathogenesis of these diseases and find potential targets for treating them.

In a next step, Buchberger and his team are planning to analyse the composition of stress granules in more detail and to identify the defective proteins that need to be removed by the proteasome. Their overarching goal is to shed light on the regulatory processes involved in the creation and elimination of stress granules.

"ZFAND1 Recruits p97 and the 26S Proteasome to Promote the Clearance of Arsenite-Induced Stress Granules"; doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.04.021

Contact

Prof. Dr. Alexander Buchberger, Department of Biochemistry, T: +49 931 31-88031, alexander.buchberger@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de

Gunnar Bartsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New study finds distinct microbes living next to corals
22.05.2019 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

nachricht Summit charts a course to uncover the origins of genetic diseases
22.05.2019 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Summit charts a course to uncover the origins of genetic diseases

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

New study finds distinct microbes living next to corals

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Stellar waltz with dramatic ending

22.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>