Milestone discovery in cell behaviors

Oct 14, 2009

A team of international molecular scientists, led by a Monash University researcher has discovered a new, fast mechanism by which cells communicate change - for example their location during spreading of a cancer in the human body - to adjacent cells.

The discovery sheds new light on cell behaviour and could lead to the development on new drugs to combat diseases such as cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

The team led by Monash University Associate Professor Martin Lackmann found that for one particular communicator between cells, an enzyme known as A-Disintegrin-And-Metalloprotease 10 (ADAM10), a change in the shape of its contender (communication partner) will start the communication process.

Scientists are interested in ADAM10 - and the proteins that are split by this protease - because it is critical in cellular mechanisms that underlie several major diseases.

"This communication process between cells forms the basis for the way in which certain diseases progress. This discovery will change how we understand cell behaviour and change how we consider the design of in this area" Associate Professor Lackmann said.

"This new concept in understanding of how cells communicate identifies a process that is much simpler than previously thought and which will profoundly impact the direction of future biomedical research in this area," he said.

"The research team found that instead of using complex signalling pathways, this communication system is really very direct and simple. In this case it is a transient switch in the overall shape of the contending itself which activates the ADAM10 protease to communicate this change and its functional consequences to a neighbouring cell.

"The discovery of this switch opens new avenues for the development of drugs that recognise this changed shape and prevent the signalling to other cells, thus slowing or even halting the spread of disease.

The discovery was made using fluorescence and electron microscopy techniques, which allowed the observation of intact cells at single molecule resolution the changes in the shape of the cell surface receptor that occur during cell-to-cell communication.

The discovery was published online today in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

Source: Monash University (news : web)

Explore further: Two-armed control of ATR, a master regulator of the DNA damage checkpoint

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chopping off protein puts immune cells into high gear

Jan 24, 2007

The complex task of launching a well-organized, effective immune system attack on specific targets is thrown into high gear when either of two specific enzymes chop a protein called LAG-3 off the immune cells leading that ...

Researchers uncover cancer survival secrets

Aug 11, 2008

A team of Monash University researchers has uncovered the role of a family of enzymes in the mutation of benign or less aggressive tumours into more aggressive, potentially fatal, cancers in the human body.

A new system for collaboration in cell communication

Jun 26, 2007

Investigators from the Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a new signalling mechanism among cells in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The researchers found that two independent groups ...

Research sheds new light on inflammatory disease

Apr 09, 2009

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that understanding the precise timing of communication between cells that coordinate the body's response to disease could be key to new drug developments.

Key Signaling Switch Identified in Allergic Disease

Oct 30, 2006

A research team has identified a key enzyme responsible for triggering a chain of events that results in allergic reaction, according to new study findings published online this week in Nature Immunology.

Researchers make major signal transduction discovery

Oct 04, 2007

The chemical process known as acetylation plays a central role in cytokine receptor signal transduction – a fundamental biochemical cascade inside cells that controls the activity of antiviral and tumor-suppressing genes.

Recommended for you

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

Dec 19, 2014

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

Dec 18, 2014

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

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.