Milestone discovery in cell behaviors

October 14, 2009

A team of international molecular scientists, led by a Monash University researcher has discovered a new, fast mechanism by which cells communicate change - for example their location during spreading of a cancer in the human body - to adjacent cells.

The discovery sheds new light on cell behaviour and could lead to the development on new drugs to combat diseases such as cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

The team led by Monash University Associate Professor Martin Lackmann found that for one particular communicator between cells, an enzyme known as A-Disintegrin-And-Metalloprotease 10 (ADAM10), a change in the shape of its contender (communication partner) will start the communication process.

Scientists are interested in ADAM10 - and the proteins that are split by this protease - because it is critical in cellular mechanisms that underlie several major diseases.

"This communication process between cells forms the basis for the way in which certain diseases progress. This discovery will change how we understand cell behaviour and change how we consider the design of in this area" Associate Professor Lackmann said.

"This new concept in understanding of how cells communicate identifies a process that is much simpler than previously thought and which will profoundly impact the direction of future biomedical research in this area," he said.

"The research team found that instead of using complex signalling pathways, this communication system is really very direct and simple. In this case it is a transient switch in the overall shape of the contending itself which activates the ADAM10 protease to communicate this change and its functional consequences to a neighbouring cell.

"The discovery of this switch opens new avenues for the development of drugs that recognise this changed shape and prevent the signalling to other cells, thus slowing or even halting the spread of disease.

The discovery was made using fluorescence and electron microscopy techniques, which allowed the observation of intact cells at single molecule resolution the changes in the shape of the cell surface receptor that occur during cell-to-cell communication.

The discovery was published online today in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

Source: Monash University (news : web)

Explore further: Key Signaling Switch Identified in Allergic Disease

Related Stories

Key Signaling Switch Identified in Allergic Disease

October 30, 2006

A research team has identified a key enzyme responsible for triggering a chain of events that results in allergic reaction, according to new study findings published online this week in Nature Immunology.

Chopping off protein puts immune cells into high gear

January 24, 2007

The complex task of launching a well-organized, effective immune system attack on specific targets is thrown into high gear when either of two specific enzymes chop a protein called LAG-3 off the immune cells leading that ...

A new system for collaboration in cell communication

June 26, 2007

Investigators from the Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a new signalling mechanism among cells in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The researchers found that two independent groups ...

Researchers make major signal transduction discovery

October 4, 2007

The chemical process known as acetylation plays a central role in cytokine receptor signal transduction – a fundamental biochemical cascade inside cells that controls the activity of antiviral and tumor-suppressing genes.

Researchers uncover cancer survival secrets

August 11, 2008

A team of Monash University researchers has uncovered the role of a family of enzymes in the mutation of benign or less aggressive tumours into more aggressive, potentially fatal, cancers in the human body.

Research sheds new light on inflammatory disease

April 9, 2009

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that understanding the precise timing of communication between cells that coordinate the body's response to disease could be key to new drug developments.

Recommended for you

Fighting explosives pollution with plants

September 3, 2015

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

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.