Nav: Home

Key protein in cellular respiration discovered

April 08, 2009

[PRESS RELEASE, 8 April 2009] Many diseases derive from problems with cellular respiration, the process through which cells extract energy from nutrients. Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have now discovered a new function for a protein in the mitochondrion - popularly called the cell's power station - that plays a key part in cell respiration.

Every time we take a breath, our blood transports oxygen to the mitochondria, where it is used to convert the nutrients in our food to a form of energy that the body can use. Problems with this process, which is called cellular respiration, have been linked to a number of morbid conditions, from unusual genetic diseases to diabetes, cancer and Parkinson's, as well as to the normal ageing process. Despite the fact that cellular respiration is so basic, there is much scientists have yet to understand about how it is regulated.

Cellular respiration depends on proteins synthesised outside the mitochondrion and imported into it, and on proteins synthesised inside the mitochondrion from its own DNA. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now shown that a specific gene (Tfb1m) in the cell's nucleus codes for a protein (TFB1M) that is essential to mitochondrial protein synthesis. If TFB1M is missing, mitochondria are unable to produce any proteins at all and cellular respiration cannot take place.

"Mice completely lacking in TFB1M die early in the foetal stage as they are unable to develop cellular respiration," says Medodi Metodiev, one of the researchers involved in the study, which is presented in Cell Metabolism. "Mice without TFB1M in the heart suffer from progressive heart failure and increase mitochondrial mass, which is similar to what we find in patients with mitochondrial diseases."

The scientists believe that the study represents a breakthrough in the understanding of how mitochondrial protein synthesis is regulated, and thus increases the chances of one day finding a treatment for mitochondrial disease, something which is currently unavailable.
-end-
Publication: 'Methylation of 12S rRNA Is Necessary for In Vivo Stability of the Small Subunit of the Mammalian Mitochondrial Ribosome', Metodi D. Metodiev, Nicole Lesko, Chan Bae Park, Yolanda Cámara, Yonghong Shi, Rolf Wibom, Kjell Hultenby, Claes M. Gustafsson and Nils-Göran Larsson, Cell Metabolism, 8 April 2009, doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2009.03.001.

Download photos: http://ki.se/pressimages

For further information, contact:

Professor Nils-Göran Larsson
Department of Laboratory Medicine
Tel: +46(0)8-5858 3724 or +46(0)70-209 7155
Email: nils-goran.larsson@ki.se

PhD Metodi Metodiev
Department of Laboratory Medicine
Tel: +46(0)8-585 836 73
Email: metodi.metodiev@ki.se

Press Officer Katarina Sternudd
Tel: +46 (0)8-524 838 95
E-post: katarina.sternudd@ki.se

Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universitiesin Europe. Through research and education, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For more information, visit ki.se

Karolinska Institutet

Related Mitochondria Articles:

Mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1 helps to treat diabetic wounds
Members of the Faculty of Biology and A.N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, a unit of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, have tested on a mouse model a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant, helping to treat diabetic wounds.
Mitochondria targeting anti-tumor compound
Researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan have found that the compound folic acid-conjugated methyl-BETA-cyclodextrin (FA-M-BETA-CyD) has significant antitumor effects on folate receptor-ALPHA-expressing (FR-ALPHA (+)) cancer cells.
Closing the gate to mitochondria
A team of researchers develops a new method that enables the identification of proteins imported into mitochondria.
Elucidated connection between renal failure and 'bad' mitochondria described
Biologists from the A.N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, a unit of the Lomonosov Moscow State University suggested the approach to prevent kidney injury after ischemia.
How exercise -- interval training in particular -- helps your mitochondria stave off old age
Researchers have long suspected that the benefits of exercise extend down to the cellular level, but know relatively little about which exercises help cells rebuild key organelles that deteriorate with aging.
More Mitochondria News and Mitochondria Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...