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

A Protein that can Mean Life or Death for Cells

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A research team discovered that Mitofusin 2 confers the cell with the sensitivity to understand its state of health, and determine whether it should be repaired or undergo apoptosis.

Each cell in an organism has a sensor that measures the health of its "internal" environment. This "alarm" is found in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which is able to sense cellular stress and trigger either rescue responses or the death of the cell. A team from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), in Barcelona, has discovered that the protein Mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) plays a crucial role in correctly measuring stress levels, and also makes sure the pathways of cell repair or cell death are effective.

The researchers reveal some of the molecular mechanisms that connect Mfn2 to endoplasmic reticulum stress in the latest edition of the scientific journal, EMBO Journal, from the Nature Group, published by the European Molecular Biology Organization.

When the scientists removed Mfn2 from the cell under conditions of cell stress, the endoplasmic reticulum responded by over-activating the repair pathways. By doing so, it contradictorily functioned worse, reducing the capacity of cells to overcome the stress insult and promoting to a lesser degree apoptotic cell death. “When Mfn2 is removed, the cellular stress response pathways are completely disrupted,” says Antonio Zorzano, coordinator of IRB’s Molecular Medicine Programme and leader of the group “Heterogenic and polygenic diseases".

Not only diabetes

Mfn2 is a mitochondrial protein whose deficiency is related to diabetes. In an earlier publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Dr. Zorzano’s research team demonstrated that without Mfn2, tissues become resistant to insulin, a characteristic of diabetes and the so-called metabolic syndrome. In this study, they also observed that the cells had higher endoplasmic reticulum stress.

The current study investigates the relationship between mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum, and indicates that changes in mitochondria, caused by the loss of the Mfn2 protein, directly affect the endoplasmic reticulum function. “We have shown that Mfn2 is important for cell viability and has implications for numerous diseases, such as neurodegeration, cancer, cardiovascular disease, in addition to diabetes,” says postdoctoral researcher Juan Pablo Muñoz, first author of the study.

Is Mitofusin 2 a good therapeutic target?

“The fact that we can modulate cell damage response with Mfn2 opens a wide window of possible therapeutic avenues for further study,” says Muñoz. The Chilean scientist at IRB explains that tumour cells don’t activate cell death properly and proliferate uncontrolled. “Cancer cells have already been noted to have low Mfn2 levels, and if we could increase such levels, we would be able to promote apoptosis,” he continues. According to this, other research teams have already published work indicating that the overexpression of Mfn2 induce apoptosis.

To demonstrate the utility of Mfn2 as a target, the researchers now need to find a small molecule, or drug, that modulates its expression in animals. “Our work published on Mfn2 is a proof of concept that highlights the importance of this mitochondrial protein for cell health,” says Zorzano. One of the challenges of the group is to secure funding to perform a massive screening of molecules with the ability to modulate Mfn2 expression and confirm its effects in mice.


Further Information

Join For Free

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 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ 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 TechnologyNetworks.com 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.


Scientific News
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
One Step Closer to Precision Medicine for Chronic Lung Disease Sufferers
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and National Jewish Health, has provided evidence of links between SNPs and known COPD blood protein biomarkers.
New Imaging Technique in Alzheimer’s Disease
Study confirms new imaging technique corresponds a higher degree of actual brain changes.
Ancient Eggshell Protein Breaks Through DNA Time Barrier
Fossil proteins from a 3.8million year-old eggshell have been identifed, suggests proteins could give insight into evolutionary tree.
New Weapon Against Hard-to-Treat Bacterial Infections
Using peptides, researchers have been able to prevent drug-resistance bacteria from forming abscesses.
Designing Drugs with a Whole New Toolbox
Researchers develop methods to design small, targeted proteins with shapes not found in nature.
Protein Studies Discover Molecular Secrets
Two protein studies have mapped proteins that reveal the secrets to recycling carbon and healing cells.
Tapping Evolution to Improve Biotech Products
Researchers show how 'ancestral sequence reconstruction' can be used to guide engineering of a blood clotting protein.
Death-or-Repair Switch Protein Identified
Researchers have identified a protein that plays a key role in the decision process of cell damage repair or cellular suicide.
Gene Deletion Reveals Cell Secrets
Researchers have deleted 174 genes in yeast to analyse the effect of individual gene deletion.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!