Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Key Protein Regulator Of Inflammation And Cell Death Discovered

Date:
January 26, 2009
Source:
Thomas Jefferson University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a key protein component involved in inflammation. The protein, AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2), is involved in the detection and reaction to dangerous cytoplasmic DNA that is produced by infection with viral or microbial pathogens, or by tissue damage. AIM2 also appears to be a tumor suppressor, and its inactivation may play a role in the development of cancer, according to researchers.

Scientists have discovered a key protein component involved in inflammation. The work, by researchers led by Emad Alnemri, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, was recently reported in the journal Nature.

The protein, AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2), is involved in the detection and reaction to dangerous cytoplasmic DNA that is produced by infection with viral or microbial pathogens, or by tissue damage. AIM2 also appears to be a tumor suppressor, and its inactivation may play a role in the development of cancer, according to Dr. Alnemri.

AIM2 belongs to a class of proteins called inflammasomes, which are multi-protein complexes that play major roles as guardians against both viral and bacterial infections. Inflammasomes also detect dangerous self-molecules associated with tissue damage.

According to Dr. Alnemri, when cells are infected with pathogens, AIM2 senses the presence of the pathogen's DNA in the cytoplasm. It then binds to the foreign DNA and causes a rapid inflammatory reaction that sends a danger signal alerting the body to the invading pathogen.

When AIM2 binds to the foreign DNA, it recruits a cytoplasmic protein called ASC. ASC and AIM2 then work together to activate caspase-1, a cysteine protease involved in the production of interleukin1beta and other inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation.

"Researchers have long sought this elusive protein that senses the presence of DNA in the cytoplasm, which is associated with pathogenic infection or the escape of undigested self-DNA into the cytoplasm," Dr. Alnemri said. "We not only identified the key protein in this process, but also discovered how this protein reacts to DNA and causes inflammation. The inflammatory response triggered when AIM2 binds to foreign DNA in the cytoplasm is the body's way of alerting other systems that there is a danger present in the cell."

According to Dr. Alnemri, the activation of AIM2 also leads to death of the infected cells, which removes the damaged cells from the body. This prevents the pathogen from replicating in the cells and spreading to other parts of the body. The fact that AIM2 can induce cell death raises the possibility that AIM2 might function as a tumor suppressor, by killing cells with damaged DNA before they transform into cancers. Inactivation of AIM2 thus might confer a growth advantage to abnormal cells and lead to the development of cancer.

"The discovery and understanding of the AIM2 inflammasome should enable scientists to design novel therapeutics that modulate its activity," Dr. Alnemri said. "Such therapeutics may be useful for the treatment of nucleic acid–dependent pathogenic and autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus," Dr. Alnemri said.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Thomas Jefferson University. "Key Protein Regulator Of Inflammation And Cell Death Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122120522.htm>.
Thomas Jefferson University. (2009, January 26). Key Protein Regulator Of Inflammation And Cell Death Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122120522.htm
Thomas Jefferson University. "Key Protein Regulator Of Inflammation And Cell Death Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090122120522.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. 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:
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