Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Lipid Code

17.04.2020

New chemical tools can control the concentration of lipids in living cells

Lipids, or fats, have many functions in our body: They form membrane barriers, store energy or act as messengers, which regulate cell growth and hormone release. Many of them are also biomarkers for severe diseases.


Molecular probes (in blue) for the analysis of lipid messengers.

Schuhmacher et al. / MPI-CBG

So far, it has been very difficult to analyze the functions of these molecules in living cells. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden and the Leibniz Research Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) in Berlin have now developed chemical tools that can be activated by light and used to influence lipid concentration in living cells.

This approach could enable medical doctors to work with biochemists to identify what molecules within a cell actually do. The study was published in the journal PNAS.

Every cell can create thousands of different lipids (fats). However, little is known how this chemical lipid diversity contributes to the transport of messages within the cell, in other words, the lipid code of the cell is still unknown.

This is mainly due to the lack of methods to quantitatively study lipid function in living cells. An understanding of how lipids work is very important because they control the function of proteins throughout the cell and are involved in bringing important substances into the cell through the cell membrane.

In this process it is fascinating that only a limited number of lipid classes on the inside of the cell membrane act as messenger molecules, but they receive messages from thousands of different receptor proteins. It is still not clear, how this abundance of messages can still be easily recognized and transmitted.

The research groups led by André Nadler at the MPI-CBG and Alexander Walter at the FMP, in collaboration with the TU Dresden, have developed chemical tools to control the concentration of lipids in living cells. These tools can be activated by light.

Milena Schuhmacher, the lead author of the study, explains: “Lipids are actually not individual molecular structures, but differ in tiny chemical details. For example, some have longer fatty acid chains and some have slightly shorter ones. Using sophisticated microscopy in living cells and mathematical modelling approaches, we were able to show that the cells are actually able to recognize these tiny changes through special effector proteins and thus possibly use them to transmit information. It was important that we were able to control exactly how much of each individual lipid was involved.”

André Nadler, who supervised the study, adds: “These results indicate the existence of a lipid code that cells use to re-encode information, detected on the outside of the cell, on the inner side of the cell.”

The results of the study could enable membrane biophysicists and lipid biochemists to verify their results with quantitative data from living cells.

André Nadler adds: “Clinicians could also benefit from our newly developed method. In diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, more lipids that act as biomarkers are found in the blood. This can be visualized with a lipid profile. With the help of our method, doctors could now see exactly what the lipids are doing in the body. That wasn't possible before.”

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr. André Nadler
+49 (0) 351 210 2970
nadler@mpi-cbg.de

Originalpublikation:

Milena Schuhmacher, Andreas T. Grasskamp, Pavel Barahtjan, Nicolai Wagner,
Benoit Lombardot, Jan S. Schuhmacher, Pia Sala, Annett Lohmann, Ian Henry, Andrej
Shevchenko, Ünal Coskun, Alexander M. Walter, André Nadler “Live cell lipid biochemistry reveals a role of diacylglycerol side chain composition for cellular lipid dynamics and protein affinities” PNAS, 25. März 2020. Doi: 10.1073/pnas.1912684117

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpi-cbg.de/research-groups/current-groups/andre-nadler/research-focus...
Research page of André Nadler

Katrin Boes | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Further information:
https://www.mpi-cbg.de/de/home/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes
10.07.2020 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

nachricht Did nerve cells evolve to talk to microbes?
10.07.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Goodbye Absorbers: High-Precision Laser Welding of Plastics

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>