Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Protein A Key To Cell Shape And Movement

Date:
August 17, 2000
Source:
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine
Summary:
A protein discovered by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill appears to play a key role in determining the shape of cells and allowing them to move.

A protein discovered by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill appears to play a key role in determining the shape of cells and allowing them to move.

Related Articles


The newly identified protein, palladin, is being explored for its influence on a number of biological processes including the invasive spread of cancer, wound healing, brain development, and the implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

"I think it may be critically involved in even more biological functions," said Carol A. Otey, PhD, assistant professor of cell and molecular physiology at UNC-CH School of Medicine.

A report of the discovery, co-authored by Mana M. Parast, PhD, of the University of Virginia, will be published in the August 7 issue on the Journal of Cell Biology.

Otey named the new protein after Andrea Palladio, the influential 16th century architect. Palladin appears to be very involved in the architecture of cells, specifically via the actin cytoskeleton, a polymer protein complex that provides much of the basis for cell shape.

"Cells have a shape that is related to their function," Otey explains. "A good example of specialized cell shape is the neuron. They must be very long and skinny to allow the nervous system to function. Another example is epithelial cells [including skin cells] which bind tightly to one another to form a continuous sheet."

According to Otey's findings, palladin belongs to a small group of cytoskeletal adhesion proteins that seem to provide molecular 'glue' for maintaining cellular shape and for the attachment of cells to one another via their plasma membranes. For example, fibroblasts are spindle-shaped cells involved in connective tissue, collagen formation and are also crucial to wound healing. In these cells, palladin is very concentrated near attachment points to the plasma membrane.

On the other hand, palladin is absent, not expressed, in some undifferentiated cells; that is, in cells which haven't achieved their genetically predetermined shape. Thus, the protein is absent in precursor stem cells. "So this indicates that palladin plays a role in forming the new cytoskeleton of cells that are beginning to differentiate and take on their specialized shape," she said.

According to Otey, an exciting thing about palladin is it's presence in different forms, different molecular weights. "In many different types of cells, one form of palladin may be necessary for tight adhesion and another for migration, or movement," she said. The Carolina scientist notes that a heavier form of palladin is more highly present, or expressed, in metastatic cancer cells - tumor cells that spread beyond their point of origin.

"It is also this form of palladin we see highly expressed in the early placenta, which of course is an 'invasive' organ," said Otey.

And it is during the first half of the ovulatory cycle that the womb prepares for embryo implantation by undergoing very dramatic changes in cell shape. A palladin form of greater molecular mass occurs during that time and then diminishes later in the cycle. "So again its expression correlates with these very dynamic structural changes," Otey noted. "That's why we think there's clearly a role for palladin from the point of view of the embryo and the point of view of the placenta."

Still, as the researcher points out, exactly what the new protein does in normal cells and in cancer cells remains to be clarified further. Her laboratory is seeking answers.

"In this first paper we describe the discovery of this protein. It's basically a birth announcement," Otey said. "All of the subsequent studies will be built on this. In the pipeline we have projects related to neuroscience, orthopedic research, developmental biology, including embryo implantation, and we're studying palladin in cancer metastasis. I think in the next couple of years we'll see results that are more specific to public health concerns."

This research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. "New Protein A Key To Cell Shape And Movement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807062756.htm>.
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. (2000, August 17). New Protein A Key To Cell Shape And Movement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807062756.htm
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. "New Protein A Key To Cell Shape And Movement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807062756.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins