Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Cell Culture
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Well-known Protein Reveals New Tricks

Published: Friday, September 07, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, September 07, 2012
Bookmark and Share
A protein called "clathrin," which is found in every human cell and plays a critical role in transporting materials within them, also plays a key role in cell division.

The discovery, featured on the cover of the Journal of Cell Biology in August, sheds light on the process of cell division and provides a new angle for understanding cancer. Without clathrin, cells divide erratically and unevenly-a phenomenon that is one of the hallmarks of the disease.

"Clathrin is doing more than we thought it was doing," said Frances Brodsky, DPhil, who led the research. Brodsky is a professor in the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department of the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, and she holds joint appointments in Microbiology and Immunology, as well as Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Protein essential for transportation in more than one route

Akin to a three-pronged building block in a child's construction set, clathrin can provide links to create larger complexes. When lots of these proteins are assembled together, they can form tough little cages into which cells packs many of their essential biological molecules-hormones, neurotransmitters, membrane proteins and other payloads that need to be transported throughout the cell.

Once thought to be solely involved in transport inside cells, scientists have uncovered more and more of the protein's hidden functions in the last half-dozen years, including some roles it plays in cell division.

For instance, they learned several years ago about its role in the function of "spindles." Normally when a cell divides, it forms a spindle by laying down tracks of structural proteins, and uses them as scaffolding to separate the cell's DNA (in the form of chromosomes) into two equal collections-one identical set of DNA for each of the new daughter cells. Scientists found that clathrin is involved in stabilizing these spindles.

Now, however, Brodsky and her colleagues have shown that clathrin does even more. They deleted clathrin from cells using a technique called RNA interference, which involves infusing in small genetic fragments that block the cell from making the clathrin. Doing so, Brodsky and her colleagues showed that clathrin stabilizes the structures in dividing cells known as centrosomes.

Tagged with fluorescent chemicals and viewed under a microscope, the centrosomes within a cell that is about to divide look like two glowing eyes peering through the dark. But without clathrin, the team determined, the eyes increase in number.

Brodsky and her colleagues traced this effect to a protein complex formed by one particular component of clathrin called CHC17, which directly stabilizes the centrosome and helps it mature. Deleting CHC17 or chemically inactivating it, led to cells with a strange appearance. These cells contained multiple, fragmented centrosomes instead of the normal two and built abnormal spindles.

This discovery may reveal pathways towards abnormalities of chromosome segregation associated with cancer, said Brodsky.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Artificial Kidney Research Gets A Boost
Development of a surgically implantable, artificial kidney — a promising alternative to kidney transplantation or dialysis for people with end-stage kidney disease — has received a $6 million boost.
Monday, November 09, 2015
Growing Spinal Disc Tissue
Scientists develop new method for growing spinal disc tissue in the lab for combating chronic back pain.
Friday, July 03, 2015
May the Cellular Force be With You
Like tiny construction workers, cells sculpt embryonic tissues and organs in 3D space.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Understanding a Protein’s Role in Familial Alzheimer’s
Researchers have used genetic engineering of human iPSC’s to specifically and precisely parse the roles of a key mutated protein in causing familial Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Monday, November 18, 2013
Developmental Protein Plays Role in Spread of Cancer
A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating metastasis.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Nobel Prize Winner Yamanaka Remains at Forefront of Fast-Moving Stem Cell Field
Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, named winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, said he was doing some housecleaning when the call came in, and was “very surprised.”
Friday, October 12, 2012
Protein Build-up Leads to Neurons Misfiring
New evidence shows that alpha-synuclein protein build-up inside neurons causes them to not only become "leaky," but also to misfire due to calcium fluxes.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Scientific News
Novel Tumor Treatment
In the first published results from a $386,000 National Cancer Institute grant awarded earlier this year, a paper by Scott Verbridge and Rafael Davalos has been published.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Some Gut Microbes May Be Keystones of Health
University of Oregon scientists have found that strength in numbers doesn’t hold true for microbes in the intestines. A minority population of the right type might hold the key to regulating good health.
The Life Story of Stem Cells
A model analyses the development of stem cell numbers in the human body.
Novel Stem Cell Line Avoids Risk of Introducing Transplanted Tumors
Progenitor cells might eventually be used to repair or rebuild damaged or destroyed organs.
Tissue Engineers Recruit Cells to Make Their Own Strong Matrix
Extracellular matrix is the material that gives tissues their strength and stretch. It’s been hard to make well in the lab, but a Brown University team reports new success. The key was creating a culture environment that guided cells to make ECM themselves.
Towards Patient-Specific Drug Screening
A new breakthrough by the 3D stem cell printing team at Heriot-Watt could pave the way to individually tailored drug testing regimes, both reducing the need for animal testing and ensuring that patients receive drugs which are most effective for their individual needs.
Artificial Kidney Research Gets A Boost
Development of a surgically implantable, artificial kidney — a promising alternative to kidney transplantation or dialysis for people with end-stage kidney disease — has received a $6 million boost.
Improving the Efficiency of Red Blood Cell Production
Study points to way of significantly reducing cost of laboratory-produced cells.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos