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: Fungus deadly to AIDS patients found to grow on trees

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

How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

12 hours ago

A research team led by Kiminori Toyooka from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science has developed a sophisticated microscopy technique that for the first time captures the detailed movement of ...

Plants can 'switch off' virus DNA

12 hours ago

A team of virologists and plant geneticists at Wageningen UR has demonstrated that when tomato plants contain Ty-1 resistance to the important Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), parts of the virus DNA ...

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

13 hours ago

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring ...

A glimpse at the rings that make cell division possible

13 hours ago

Forming like a blown smoke ring does, a "contractile ring" similar to a tiny muscle pinches yeast cells in two. The division of cells makes life possible, but the actual mechanics of this fundamental process ...

User comments : 0