Weather forecasting technology used to predict where proteins anchor within human cells

March 30, 2017

Met Office technology used to study climate change is being used by scientists to predict the behaviour of vitalsorting and location of proteins cells in cells of the the human body.

Proteins are large biomolecules, which are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the cells in the human body. After their production, many proteins have to be routed to specific locations within the cell for it to work properly.

Researchers at the University of Exeter have made a key finding about the signals and mechanisms which mediate and regulate this protein sorting in the cell. They have discovered how an important group of membrane proteins, which function as adaptor molecules at the surface of cellular compartments, are routed to their specific target membranes.

Proper targeting of these membrane adaptors is crucial for the function of cellular compartments. Mis-targeting or loss of adaptor function leads to a range of severe or fatal disorders associated with metabolic, developmental or neurological defects.

Dr Michael Schrader, from the University of Exeter, who led the study, said: "This research has allowed us to better understand how the cell sorts and delivers these proteins. We now know which properties determine how they travel to specific organelles and can exploit this knowledge to predict the localisation of hitherto uncharacterised adaptor proteins encoded in the human genome."

The study has identified for the first time the specific chemical properties in tail-anchored membrane proteins which determine where they travel in a cell. It reveals that a combination of tail charge and hydrophobicity - or water-fearing - of the membrane-spanning domain determines targeting to distinct organelles. Subtle alterations in those physicochemical parameters are sufficient to shift adaptor protein targeting between organelles.

Dr Schrader said: "Our findings can be used to modulate and improve targeting of membrane adaptors. This could also improve medical treatment, because researchers could use this information to produce drugs which better target specific organelles."

The researchers are working with experts from the Met Office. "It can be expensive and slow to run the most accurate computer simulations of the Earth's climate, so we are always looking for ways to make the best use of the data we have. It turns out the statistical methods we use to predict climate change are useful for predicting where proteins anchor within the cell", said co-author Doug McNeall from the Met Office.
-end-
The University of Exeter's research, funded by BBSRC, was carried out in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg/Mannheim, the EMBL Hamburg, and the National University of Singapore.

The paper, Predicting the targeting of tail-anchored proteins to subcellular compartments in mammalian cells, is published in the Journal of Cell Science.

The authors were Joseph Costello, Inês Castro, Fátima Camões, Tina A. Schrader, Doug McNeall, Jing Yang, Evdokia-Anastasia Giannopoulou, Sílvia Gomes, Vivian Pogenberg, Nina A. Bonekamp, Daniela Ribeiro, Matthias Wilmanns, Gregory Jedd, Markus Islinger and Michael Schrader.

University of Exeter

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.