Novel molecules to target the cytoskeleton

Aug 01, 2013
Novel molecules to target the cytoskeleton
Growth of lamellar networks of actin filaments after the addition of the new compounds (compare the cell contours on the left and right). Credit: ISIS/IGBMC

The dysfunction of the cytoskeleton, a constituent element of the cell, is often associated with pathologies such as the onset of metastases. For this reason, it is a target of interest in numerous therapies. Teams from CNRS, the Université de Strasbourg and Inserm, led by Daniel Riveline, Jean-Marie Lehn and Marie-France Carlier, have synthesized molecules capable of causing rapid growth of actin networks, one of the components of the cytoskeleton. This is a breakthrough because, until now, only molecules that stabilize or destroy the cytoskeleton of actin have been available. These compounds with novel properties, whose action has been elucidated both in vitro and in vivo, provide a new tool in pharmacology. This work was published in the journal Nature Communications on 29 July 2013.

The is mainly composed of actin filaments and . Made of polymers in dynamic assembly and constantly constructing and deconstructing itself, it affects numerous such as intracellular movement, division and transport. It is involved in key steps of embryogenesis and other processes essential to life. Consequently, its malfunctioning can lead to serious pathologies. For example, the onset of certain is revealed by an increased activity of the cytoskeleton. Identifying new molecules that target the cytoskeleton thus represents a major challenge.

Until now, the molecules known and used in pharmacology had the effect of stabilizing or destroying the cytoskeleton of actin. Actin allows vital actions to be performed by assembling and disassembling itself spontaneously, continually and rapidly in the form of filaments that organize themselves and form networks of parallel bundles or intertwined meshes (known as lamellar networks). Derived from supramolecular chemistry, the new compounds synthesized by the researchers have original properties: within several minutes, they bring about the growth of lamellar networks of . This is the first time that a pharmacological tool induces growth of the actin network - something that living organisms do all the time. In this way, the researchers have shown that the action of these compounds is specific in vivo (on cells). In addition, they have identified the growth mechanism of the actin network by comparative in vivo and in vitro studies in order to ensure the validity of the process.

For cellular or molecular biology, this tool proposes a new mode of possible action on the cytoskeleton and thus opens new research perspectives for deciphering the living world. This finding could lead to the development of new compounds, derived from the same chemistry, and potential candidates for new therapies targeting the cytoskeleton.

Explore further: Team charts new understanding of actin filament growth in cells

More information: Nedeva, I. et al. Nature Communications, 29 July 2013. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3165

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The determining factors of cell shape examined

Oct 04, 2012

A European team is investigating the role of the bacterial cell wall and the cytoskeleton in mediating cell shape. Results are expected to have broader implications for cell biology.

Recommended for you

For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

18 hours ago

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these ...

Adventurous bacteria

19 hours ago

To reproduce or to conquer the world? Surprisingly, bacteria also face this problem. Theoretical biophysicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have now shown how these organisms should ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

21 hours ago

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...