With HMGB1's help, cells dine in

Sep 06, 2010
Sites of autophagy (green) are reduced in cells lacking HMGB1 (left) compared with control cells (right). Credit: Tang, D., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200911078.

Like some people, cells eat when they are under pressure -- but they consume parts of themselves. A multi-function protein helps control this form of cannibalism, according to a study in the September 6 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.

Cells often respond to hunger or stress by digesting some of their contents. The process, known as autophagy, helps free nutrients and clean up cytoplasmic trash such as worn-out organelles and misshapen proteins.

A team led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute discovered a link between this form of cellular recycling and the protein HMGB1. The team showed HMGB1 to be a critical pro-autophagic that enhances cell survival and limits programmed cell death.

The findings suggests that blocking HMGB1 could benefit cancer patients, since often rev up autophagy to withstand , immunotherapy, and radiation treatment.

Explore further: Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

More information: Tang, D., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200911078

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cell recycling protects tumor cells from anti-cancer therapy

Mar 06, 2008

Cells have their own recycling system: Discarded cellular components, from individual proteins through to whole cellular organs, are degraded and the building blocks re-used in a different place. The scientific term for this ...

Targeted virus compels cancer cells to eat themselves

May 02, 2006

An engineered virus tracks down and infects the most common and deadly form of brain cancer and then kills tumor cells by forcing them to devour themselves, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center ...

Recommended for you

Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

7 hours ago

Modern biology has attained deep knowledge of how cells work, but the mechanisms by which cellular structures assemble and grow to the right size largely remain a mystery. Now, Princeton University researchers ...

Sall4 is required for DNA repair in stem cells

14 hours ago

A protein that helps embryonic stem cells (ESCs) retain their identity also promotes DNA repair, according to a study in The Journal of Cell Biology. The findings raise the possibility that the protein, Sall4, ...

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.