Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Uncover Early Warning System For Copper Toxicity; Findings Could Influence Design Of Anticancer And Antimicrobial Drugs

Date:
September 5, 2003
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Chemists and biologists at Northwestern University have acquired new insight into how a specialized sensor protein, which acts as an early warning system, detects dangerous amounts of the "coinage metals" -- silver, gold and copper -- inside cells. For the first time, researchers can explain this important mechanism at the atomic level.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Chemists and biologists at Northwestern University have acquired new insight into how a specialized sensor protein, which acts as an early warning system, detects dangerous amounts of the "coinage metals" -- silver, gold and copper -- inside cells. For the first time, researchers can explain this important mechanism at the atomic level.

The findings, to be published Sept. 5 in the journal Science and recently published online by the Journal of the American Chemical Society, should improve our knowledge of diseases related to copper metabolism and influence the design of anticancer and antimicrobial drugs, and may lead to better methods for removing toxic metals from the environment.

By studying the inorganic chemistry of the bacterium E. coli, a research team led by Thomas V. O'Halloran, professor of chemistry at Northwestern, established the molecular and structural basis for the cell's early detection of miniscule amounts of copper. The work was done in collaboration with Alfonso Mondragon, professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology at Northwestern, and James E. Penner-Hahn, professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan.

Having determined the structures of copper-, silver- and gold-bound forms of the metalloregulatory protein CueR, the researchers were able to show the protein's extraordinary sensitivity to copper as well as how the cell distinguishes copper from other metals, such as gold and silver.

"Metals are absolutely essential to the healthy functioning of all cells in the human body," said O'Halloran. "But metals are high-maintenance nutrients. They are finicky and can be particularly destructive if not managed by the cell in the right way. Cells must protect themselves against excess amounts."

O'Halloran likened the cell to a city in which metal ions are similar to important and reactive fuels that must be imported and then carefully delivered from one part of the city to another. Reactive metals such as copper have the potential to catalyze runaway reactions that could harm the cell, much as a series of explosions could damage critical systems in a city. Understanding how a cell properly deals with copper and other potentially toxic metals will aid biomedical researchers in understanding what happens when things go awry in cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Wilson's, Menkes and Lou Gehrig's diseases and possibly Alzheimer's disease.

"Metals are at the center of many emerging problems in health, medicine and the environment," said O'Halloran.

In addition to O'Halloran and Mondragon, other authors on the Science paper are Anita Changela (lead author), Kui Chen, Yi Xue, Jackie Holschen and Caryn Outten, from Northwestern University.

O'Halloran and Penner-Hahn are joined by Kui Chen (lead author), from Northwestern University, and Saodat Yuldasheva, from the University of Michigan, on the paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Scientists Uncover Early Warning System For Copper Toxicity; Findings Could Influence Design Of Anticancer And Antimicrobial Drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905073034.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2003, September 5). Scientists Uncover Early Warning System For Copper Toxicity; Findings Could Influence Design Of Anticancer And Antimicrobial Drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905073034.htm
Northwestern University. "Scientists Uncover Early Warning System For Copper Toxicity; Findings Could Influence Design Of Anticancer And Antimicrobial Drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030905073034.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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