With HMGB1's help, cells dine in

September 06, 2010

Like some people, cells eat when they are under pressure--but they consume parts of themselves. A multi-function protein helps control this form of cannibalism, according to a study in the September 6 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology (www.jcb.org).

Cells often respond to hunger or stress by digesting some of their contents. The process, known as autophagy, helps free nutrients and clean up cytoplasmic trash such as worn-out organelles and misshapen proteins. A team led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute discovered a link between this form of cellular recycling and the protein HMGB1. The team showed HMGB1 to be a critical pro-autophagic protein that enhances cell survival and limits programmed cell death.

The findings suggests that blocking HMGB1 could benefit cancer patients, since tumor cells often rev up autophagy to withstand chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation treatment.
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About The Journal of Cell Biology

Founded in 1955, The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) is published by The Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists in conjunction with our in-house scientific editors. JCB content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit www.jcb.org.

Tang, D., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200911078.

Rockefeller University Press

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