Researchers identify new function of protein in cellular respiration

Jan 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that the protein Stat3 plays a key role in regulating mitochondria, the energy-producing machines of cells. This discovery could one day lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease to boost energy in failing heart muscle or to master the abnormal metabolism of cancer.

In the study, published online Jan. 8 in Science Express, researchers reported that Stat3, a protein previously known to control the activity of genes by acting in the cell nucleus, also plays a key role in cellular energy production.

The team examined oxygen consumption in cultured cells and hearts of mice. They discovered that when Stat 3 protein was missing, cells consumed less oxygen and produced less ATP, the key molecular form of cellular energy. The findings revealed that Stat3 is necessary for the function of the mitochondrial electron transport chain that generates ATP. Changes in energy production and expenditure are essential to maintain cellular homeostasis.

"We found evidence that Stat3 is present in the mitochondria and that it serves to control the production of ATP," said principal investigator Andrew C. Larner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the VCU School of Medicine, and co-leader of the Immune Mechanisms research program at the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

"We have described a new pathway by which generation of ATP is regulated. This pathway could suggest new ways for Stat3 to be therapeutically manipulated to treat a variety of diseases where there are imbalances between energy generation and energy demands such as occurs in cancer and heart disease," he said.

Next, the team will conduct studies to determine the downstream targets of Stat3 in the mitochondria and identify the physiological role of Stat3 that is localized to the mitochondria in heart disease and cancer.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Explore further: Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

25 minutes ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

1 hour ago

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

New terahertz device could strengthen security

1 hour ago

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures ...

European space plane set for February launch

1 hour ago

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Recommended for you

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

User comments : 0

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.