Nav: Home

Researchers discover mitochondria-to-nucleus messenger protein

March 01, 2018

(Boston)--Researchers have identified a protein, G-Protein Pathway Suppressor 2 (GPS2), that moves from a cell's mitochondria to its nucleus in response to stress and during the differentiation of fat cells. While proteins with similar functions had previously been found in yeast and worms, this is first direct messenger discovered in the cells of mammals.

Mitochondria regulate cell survival and metabolism. They are often called the powerhouse of the cell because they take in oxygen and nutrients, break them down and create energy rich molecules for the cell. This is essential for cells and tissues to function properly and defects in mitochondrial functions and number are linked to aging and chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity, type II diabetes and neurological disorders.

Mitochondria are special organelles that contain their own DNA. However, the information they store is not sufficient to sustain their own activity or biogenesis. Instead most of the genetic information for mitochondrial proteins is stored in the nuclear DNA. Thus, when the mitochondria are under stress they need to communicate with the nucleus so that it can respond appropriately to help restore their activity or increase in number.

The researchers conducted their study in cell cultures and experimental models that had been genetically modified to lose the expression of GPS2. "Using a combination of imaging techniques, biochemical approaches and next-generation sequencing experiments, we were able to show that the total number of mitochondria in the cells and the fat tissue without GPS2 was considerably lower than in the normal ones. We also showed that in absence of GPS2, cells were not able to recover when exposed to mitochondrial stress" explained corresponding author Valentina Perissi, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Although these finding are primarily important for the basic understanding of cell biology and currently do not have direct translational implications, the ability to understand how mitochondria communicate their stress level and their energy status to the nucleus is an important step towards understanding of how mitochondrial diseases arise and how they can be treated. Also, therapeutic and lifestyle interventions designed for combating obesity and improving insulin sensitivity often rely on increased mitochondrial activity in the adipose tissue. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate the biogenesis of mitochondria could have important translational implications.
-end-
These findings appear online in the journal Molecular Cell.

Funding for this study was provided by BNORC and BU/Joslin P&F Awards (P30DK046200, P30DK036836), F31DK108571 NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship and Research Grants R01DK100422 and DoD-BC160363.

Boston University School of Medicine

Related Obesity Articles:

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.
Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).
How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
Systematic review shows risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to pregnancy
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28- May 1) reveals that the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant.
Eating later in the day may be associated with obesity
Eating later in the day may contribute to weight gain, according to a new study to be presented Saturday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.
How obesity affects vitamin D metabolism
A new Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study confirms that vitamin D supplementation is less effective in the presence of obesity, and it uncovers a biological mechanism to explain this observation.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.