Secret life of cells revealed with new technique

April 23, 2014 by Bronwyn Adams
Secret life of cells revealed with new technique
UQ researchers, including Dr Yann Gambin, Dr Nick Ariotti and Dr Kerrie-Ann McMahon, have developed a technique that allows scientists to conduct experiments rapidly and with increased resolution.

(Phys.org) —A new technique that allows researchers to conduct experiments more rapidly and accurately is giving insights into the workings of proteins important in heart and muscle diseases.

The , developed by researchers at The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), enables researchers to examine individual proteins and directly observe how they interact with other proteins in a cell.

Proteins are involved in most critical processes in the body, and the ability to study their interactions is a cornerstone of health and medical research.

UQ's Dr Yann Gambin led the collaborative study between the laboratories of IMB researchers Professor Rob Parton, Professor Kirill Alexandrov and Dr Brett Collins.

Dr Gambin said the new method was a huge leap forward that would advance research by speeding up the preparation of proteins for experiments, allowing scientists to process 100 proteins a day instead of a few each year.

"Replicating the behaviour of complex proteins in the human body using a different organism can be a very frustrating process," Dr Gambin said.

"Now we can analyse proteins directly in cell extracts, without any purification steps that may perturb biological processes.

"The new method allows us to dramatically accelerate the discovery process, which will translate into rapid advancement of our understanding of the inner workings of cells in health and disease."

The researchers used the technique to examine cavins, proteins that sit in pockets on the cell surface, an area studied in-depth by IMB's Professor Rob Parton.

Faulty cavins have been associated with heart disease and muscular dystrophy but until now nothing was really known about how cavins interacted.

"By looking at cavins at single-molecule resolution, we have discovered how cavins associate into large complexes, with unexpected selectivity as certain types of cavins will bind together, but others won't," Dr Gambin said.

"Given the role of these proteins in human diseases, an improved understanding of how the cavin complexes form and break down may assist in developing treatments for diseases caused by faulty cavins."

Dr Gambin said the technique was already being used in research projects focusing on cancer, inflammation and infectious disease across the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and was likely to be adopted by researchers around the world after being published internationally in the new open-access scientific journal eLife.

Explore further: Reducing large proteins to small molecules yields more affordable drugs

More information: "Single-molecule analysis reveals self assembly and nanoscale segregation of two distinct cavin subcomplexes on caveolae." Yann Gambin, Nicholas Ariotti, Kerrie-Ann McMahon, Michele Bastiani, Emma Sierecki, Oleksiy Kovtun, Mark E Polinkovsky, Astrid Magenau, WooRam Jung, Satomi Okano, Yong Zhou, Natalya Leneva, Sergey Mureev, Wayne Johnston, Katharina Gaus, John F Hancock, Brett M Collins, Kirill Alexandrov, Robert G Parton. Published January 28, 2014. eLife 2014;3:e01434. dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01434

Related Stories

Cell glue gives insights into cancer

July 17, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- University of Queensland researchers have discovered an important step in how proteins glue cells together to form healthy tissues, a process that is often disturbed in diseases such as cancer and inflammation. ...

Recommended for you

Mice can smell oxygen

December 2, 2016

The genome of mice harbours more than 1000 odorant receptor genes, which enable them to smell myriad odours in their surroundings. Researchers at the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics in Frankfurt, the University ...

How single-celled organisms navigate to oxygen

December 2, 2016

A team of researchers has discovered that tiny clusters of single-celled organisms that inhabit the world's oceans and lakes, are capable of navigating their way to oxygen. Writing in e-Life scientists at the University ...

Natural nomads, leatherback turtles opt to stay in place

December 2, 2016

Endangered leatherback sea turtles are known for their open-ocean migratory nature and nomadic foraging habits – traveling thousands of miles. But a Cornell naturalist and his colleagues have discovered an area along the ...

Neural stem cells serve as RNA highways too

December 1, 2016

Duke University scientists have caught the first glimpse of molecules shuttling along a sort of highway running the length of neural stem cells, which are crucial to the development of new neurons.

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.