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Knocked off balance by a defect in the cellular process autophagy

Date:
June 23, 2010
Source:
Journal of Clinical Investigation
Summary:
New research has identified in mice an essential role for the cellular process known as autophagy in inner ear development and balance sensing. It is hoped that these data will provide new understanding of human balance disorders, which are of increasing relevance as the elderly population expands, and possibly new therapeutic approaches.

A team of researchers, led by Carlos López-Otín, at Universidad de Oviedo, Spain, has identified in mice an essential role for the cellular process known as autophagy in inner ear development and balance sensing. The team hopes that these data will provide new understanding of human balance disorders, which are of increasing relevance as the elderly population expands, and possibly new therapeutic approaches.

Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process by which cells consume unwanted cellular constituents and recycle nutrients. The team generated mice lacking the autophagy protein Atg4b and showed that they exhibited a systemic reduction in autophagy.

Surprisingly, the mice also exhibited several behaviors characteristic of inner ear disorders, such as head-tilting, circling behavior, and an inability to swim. Further analysis indicated that these behaviors resulted from defective development of otoconia, organic particles that contain calcium carbonate crystals and proteins and that are essential for balance perception. In an accompanying commentary, Suresh Subramani and Andreas Till, at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, note that these data indicate a role for autophagy in functions distinct from degrading cellular constituents.

The research appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Clinical Investigation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Guillermo Mariño, Alvaro F. Fernández, Sandra Cabrera, Yunxia W. Lundberg, Rubén Cabanillas, Francisco Rodríguez, Natalia Salvador-Montoliu, José A. Vega, Antonino Germanà, Antonio Fueyo, José M.P. Freije and Carlos López-Otín. Autophagy is essential for mouse sense of balance. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2010; DOI: 10.1172/JCI42601
  2. Andreas Till, Suresh Subramani. A balancing act for autophagin. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2010; 120 (7): 2273-2276 DOI: 10.1172/JCI43238

Cite This Page:

Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Knocked off balance by a defect in the cellular process autophagy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623123349.htm>.
Journal of Clinical Investigation. (2010, June 23). Knocked off balance by a defect in the cellular process autophagy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623123349.htm
Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Knocked off balance by a defect in the cellular process autophagy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623123349.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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