Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Discover Gene Responsible For Cilia, Lungs' Natural Cleaning System

Date:
January 10, 2001
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists have discovered the human version of a gene and gene product that is an essential component of the tiny hair-like whips called cilia that cleanse the lungs. They did it by applying what is known about comparable structures in single-celled organisms that enable the tiny creatures to swim around in pond water.

Chapel Hill -- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists have discovered the human version of a gene and gene product that is an essential component of the tiny hair-like whips called cilia that cleanse the lungs. They did it by applying what is known about comparable structures in single-celled organisms that enable the tiny creatures to swim around in pond water.

Related Articles


Such novel work will help other researchers trying to understand and combat chronic lung diseases, the UNC-CH scientists said.

The team used knowledge developed by cell biologists who have studied the cilia of sea urchins and single-celled animals for the past 40 years. To pinpoint the human gene, they combined that knowledge with information generated by international efforts to sequence the human genome -- all genes in the body.

"It turns out that these structures are highly conserved, or repeated, in nature such that the cilia on a one-celled animal in a pond are very, very similar to the respiratory cilia in human airways," said Dr. William Reed, research assistant professor of pediatrics at the UNC-CH School of Medicine. "We relied on that high degree of similarity in structure and protein sequence to pull out a human relative of the animal gene."

The gene produces a large protein essential for generating forces that power the whip-like movement of cilia, Reed said. Besides identifying it, they also showed that the gene is "turned on" in cells as they begin growing cilia.

About 80 percent of epithelial cells in healthy human airways are ciliated, he said. They sweep mucous and trapped particles and disease-causing organisms into the throat where they are usually swallowed and eliminated.

Ciliated cells are injured and lost when flu viruses infect the lungs, for example. This reduces the ability of the lung to cleanse itself. Normal recovery involves regeneration of the ciliated cells by a repair process that is poorly understood.

The bottom line of the research is that -- now that they have located a human gene "linked" to the appearance of ciliated cells -- they have created a new way of following when ciliated cells appear in the lung, the scientist said.

"In chronic lung diseases such as asthma, the repair process can be slowed or halted," Reed said. "Expression of this gene can be used as a tool to understand the repair process and how it is interrupted in asthmatics."

The gene may also be useful to scientists studying a less common disorder called primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), he said. PCD patients' cilia do not move normally. Such people suffer chronic ear and lung infections and can require lung transplants.

A report on the finding appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. Besides Reed, authors include Drs. Johnny L. Carson, Billie M. Moats-Staats, Ping-chuan Hu, Margaret W. Leigh and Albert M. Collier of the departments of pediatrics and cell biology and anatomy, the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine and Lung Biology and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center.

Reed called the research, completed last year, "groundwork for quantitatively following airway epithelial cell differentiation." He and his colleagues currently are writing scientific reports on important further developments.

"This is an good example of the way information generated by the Human Genome Project and fundamental cell biology can be combined and translated into a human research setting," he said.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development supported the experiments.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Researchers Discover Gene Responsible For Cilia, Lungs' Natural Cleaning System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074643.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2001, January 10). Researchers Discover Gene Responsible For Cilia, Lungs' Natural Cleaning System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074643.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Researchers Discover Gene Responsible For Cilia, Lungs' Natural Cleaning System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074643.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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