Study: Sugar helps control cell division

September 21, 2005

Johns Hopkins scientists in Baltimore say they've discovered a deceptively simple sugar is really a critical regulator of cells' natural life cycle.

Their research reveals that, when disturbed, the process could contribute to cancer or other diseases by failing to properly control cell division, the researchers say.

The sugar, known as O-GlcNAc, is used inside cells to modify proteins, thereby helping or preventing their interactions with other proteins and regulating their destruction. The sugar's effect on proteins seems to be important controllers of cell division, say the researchers.

"The dogma for decades has been that the cycle of cell division is controlled by the appearance and disappearance of certain proteins called cyclins. But experiments have shown that you can knock out any of these and still get perfectly normal cell division," says the study's first author, Chad Slawson, a postdoctoral fellow in biological chemistry. "In contrast, our experiments show that by increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar attached to proteins, the cell cycle is disrupted and isn't salvageable unless O-GlcNAc levels are fixed."

The study is detailed in the Sept. 23 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, available online now.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering with 3-D printers

Related Stories

Yes, you can make alcohol from Vegemite, but ...

August 14, 2015

Vegemite has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons. It all started when Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said he'd heard the yeast extract was being used in dry communities to brew alcohol.

The potential in your pond

August 14, 2015

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered that Euglena gracilis, the single cell algae which inhabits most garden ponds, has a whole host of new, unclassified genes which can make new forms of carbohydrates and ...

How lipids are flipped

August 12, 2015

A team of researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Bern has succeeded in determining the structure of a lipid flippase at high resolution, which has provided insight into how this membrane protein transports lipids ...

The evolution of beer

August 11, 2015

From Austrian monks to American craft brewers, beer geeks are everywhere. But making a good beer not only depends on the best ingredients, but also the best yeast.

Toxin from salmonid fish has potential to treat cancer

July 24, 2015

Pathogenic bacteria develop killer machines that work very specifically and highly efficiently. Scientists from the University of Freiburg have solved the molecular mechanism of a fish toxin that could be used in the future ...

Recommended for you

Ice sheets may be more resilient than thought

September 3, 2015

Sea level rise poses one of the biggest threats to human systems in a globally warming world, potentially causing trillions of dollars' worth of damages to flooded cities around the world. As surface temperatures rise, ice ...

Long-sought chiral anomaly detected in crystalline material

September 3, 2015

A study by Princeton researchers presents evidence for a long-sought phenomenon—first theorized in the 1960s and predicted to be found in crystals in 1983—called the "chiral anomaly" in a metallic compound of sodium and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.