Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey

Date:
October 26, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Amoebas glide toward their prey with the help of a protein switch that controls a molecular compass, biologists have discovered.

Green lights activated compass protein at the leading edge of an amoeba hunting for food.
Credit: Firtel lab/UCSD

Amoebas glide toward their prey with the help of a protein switch that controls a molecular compass, biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered.

Related Articles


Their finding, recently detailed in the journal Current Biology, is important because the same molecular switch is shared by humans and other vertebrates to help immune cells locate the sites of infections.

The amoeba Dictyostelium finds bacteria by scent and moves toward its meal by assembling a molecular motor on its leading edge. The active form of a protein called Ras sets off a cascade of signals to start up that motor, but what controlled Ras was unknown.

Richard Firtel, professor of biology along with graduate student Sheng Zhang and postdoctoral fellow Pascale Charest tested seven suspect proteins by disrupting their genes. One called NF1, which matches a human protein, proved critical to chemical navigation.

NF1 turns Ras off. Without this switch mutant amoebas extended false feet called pseudopodia in all directions and wandered aimlessly as Ras flickered on and off at random points on their surfaces. “You have to orient Ras in order to drive your cell in the right direction,” Firtel said.

In contrast, normal amoebas with working versions of NF1 elongate in a single direction and head straight for the most intense concentration of bacterial chemicals, the team reports.

The biochemical components of the system match those found in vertebrate immune cells called neutrophils that hunt down bacterial invaders, suggesting that the switch might be a key navigational control for many types of cells, Firtel said. “The pathway and responses are very similar and so are the molecules.”

The US Public Health Service funded this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081023144057.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, October 26). Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081023144057.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081023144057.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
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