Cell motility mystery cracked—the protein that re-charges the cell's motility machinery revealed

May 17, 2018, University of Helsinki

Research conducted in the University of Helsinki may help in developing specific inhibitors that would slow down actin-dependent movement of cancer cells.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) produced by mitochondria is the main energy source for chemical reactions in cells. A human typically produces up to his or her own body weight of ATP over the course of the day.

A major user of ATP in many cell types is the , which is composed of dynamic filaments that provide the force for cells to move around and change their shape. For example in neurons and immune cells, approximately half of the ATP is estimated to be consumed in motile and morphogenetic processes driven by ATP-dependent growth of . However, the mechanism by which ATP is loaded to has remained a mystery.

Researchers at Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki have now discovered that the abundant and evolutionarily conserved protein,cyclase-associated protein, is responsible for re-charging actin monomers with ATP. It converts them into a form that can be used for motile and morphogenetic processes in cells.

"Interestingly, the levels of cyclase-associated protein are also altered in many cancers. The structural work presented in this study may open new avenues for developing specific inhibitors that would slow down actin-dependent motility of ," explains post-doctoral fellow Konstantin Kogan.

Moreover, by determining the atomic structure of the cyclase-associated protein in complex with actin, combined with atomistic molecular simulations, researchers revealed the precise molecular mechanism by which cyclase-associated protein catalyzes actin monomer re-charging.

"These findings not only reveal how ATP is loaded to actin in our , but also explain why cyclase-associated protein is present in all eukaryotes and is so important for their life," says researcher Tommi Kotila.

Explore further: New mechanism controlling proper organization of the muscle contractile units indentified

More information: Tommi Kotila et al. Structural basis of actin monomer re-charging by cyclase-associated protein, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04231-7

Related Stories

Cytoskeletons shaking hands

June 3, 2015

Animal cells harbor three types of cytoskeletal elements: actin filaments, intermediate filaments and microtubules. Despite their name, cytoskeletons are very dynamic structures, which undergo rapid reorganization in cells ...

Protein structure reveals how cells regulate their skeletons

June 24, 2015

Insight into the regulation of cell skeleton structure has come from a study conducted by A*STAR researchers. The work, which solved a protein structure that has eluded scientists for 20 years, should lead to further insights ...

Recommended for you

Researchers come face to face with huge great white shark

January 18, 2019

Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.

Why do Hydra end up with just a single head?

January 18, 2019

Often considered immortal, the freshwater Hydra can regenerate any part of its body, a trait discovered by the Geneva naturalist Abraham Trembley nearly 300 years ago. Any fragment of its body containing a few thousands cells ...


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.