Deciphering cellular 'roadmap' of disease-related proteins

Jul 07, 2013

University of Toronto researchers are helping demystify an important class of proteins associated with disease, a discovery that could lead to better treatments for cancer, cystic fibrosis and many other conditions.

Igor Stagljar, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine's Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, and his team developed the first roadmap for ATP-binding cassette (ABC) . These proteins are crucial components of every cell, and are also involved in tumor resistance.

Scientists have struggled with understanding how ABC transporter proteins work and communicate with other proteins. Stagljar and his team, including first author Dr. Jamie Snider, have solved the mystery by using Membrane Yeast Two-Hybrid ('MYTH') technology to see how these transporter proteins interact with other vital components in the cell.

"Cell systems are complex and we need to have a solid grasp of how the individual pieces fit together in order to understand why certain diseases occur and how to best treat them," says Stagljar, who is also cross-appointed to the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

ABC transporter proteins act as cellular gatekeepers by retaining nutrients and expelling toxins from the cell. If these proteins are not working properly, it can cause a number of diseases including: , age-related macular degeneration, Tangier disease, and Dubin-Johnson syndrome. ABC proteins can also cause to reject which makes treatment less effective.

"Our discovery shows how ABC transporter proteins effect cancer and other diseases, and this knowledge can help us develop better, more targeted drugs. This is truly momentous," said Stagljar.

The study was published today in Nature Chemical Biology.

Explore further: Major step forward in understanding of viruses as scientists unlock exact structure of Hep A virus

More information: Mapping the functional yeast ABC transporter interactome, DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1293

Related Stories

'Traffic' in our cells works both for and against us

May 01, 2013

A mechanism that permits essential substances to enter our cells while at the same time removing from them harmful components also has a "down side." This negative aspect prevents vital drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs, from ...

Breakthrough: Sensors monitor cells at work

Jul 02, 2013

Transport proteins are responsible for moving materials such as nutrients and metabolic products through a cell's outer membrane, which seals and protects all living cells, to the cell's interior. These transported molecules ...

Protein inhibits cancer cell growth

Dec 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of Toronto and Goethe University in Germany have discovered a protein that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, providing crucial clues for the future development of new drugs ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0