The findings that in the future may aid the body’s defense system are published in the March 7 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The research is partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“What we found is a family of proteins that control macrophage activation,” researcher Mingui Fu said from a laboratory in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at UCF.
Macrophages are the body’s self-cleaners. They live in the bloodstream and are called to action when bacteria or other foreign objects attack. Scientists have been studying what triggers them, but no one has come up with a step-by-step process yet. Once triggered, macrophages travel to the infection site and gobble up the invader, helping the body heal. The attack is manifested by inflammation at the infection site.
When everything works right, the inflammation goes away and the person’s health improves. But when macrophages go awry, they can cause more harm than good. Sometimes the macrophages mistake the body’s own organs for invaders and attack, and that can cause arthritis or some forms of cancer. Sometimes the cleaners fail to detect threats, such as malignant cancer cells, which then go unregulated and can turn into fatal tumors.
When Fu arrived at UCF in 2007, he teamed up with Pappachan Kolattukudy, the director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Kolattukudy’s laboratory has been studying for two decades how a small protein called MCP, produced at the site of injury, infection or inflammation, attracts macrophages to the site to clean up. Last year his team published the discovery of a novel gene called MCPIP that is turned on by MCP. They showed that MCPIP is involved in the development of ischemic heart failure, the leading cause of death. This team has been exploring how this new gene works.
MCPIP turns out to be the first member of a small, newly discovered gene family called CCCH-Zinc fingure proteins. This family appears to switch the macrophages on and off. The researchers continue to study different aspects of the proteins because of the possibility that they will be critical in treating and curing inflammatory diseases.
Kolattukudy said the new protein holds a lot of promise, but more studies are needed.
“Because this novel protein has key roles to play in the major inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity-induced type2 diabetes, it is a promising drug target,” Kolattukudy said. “We have a patent application filed on this protein for that purpose.”
Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | EurekAlert!
Researchers image atomic structure of important immune regulator
11.12.2018 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Potential seen for tailoring treatment for acute myeloid leukemia
10.12.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2018 | Information Technology