Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon dioxide’s new-found signalling role could be applied to blood flow, birth and deafness

Date:
November 13, 2013
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
New research reveals exactly how the body measures carbon dioxide and suggests that far from being a metabolic waste product, it could play a key role as a biological signalling molecule.

New research reveals exactly how the body measures carbon dioxide and suggests that far from being a metabolic waste product, it could play a key role as a biological signalling molecule.

Researchers led by Professor Nick Dale in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick have shown that the body senses carbon dioxide directly through the protein Connexin 26, which acts as a receptor for the gas. Connexin 26 is better known as forming a direct channel of communication between cells. This new work shows an unexpected function for Connexin 26 -as a receptor for carbon dioxide.

The study demonstrates at a molecular level exactly how Connexin 26 interacts with carbon dioxide. This finding therefore adds carbon dioxide to the list of gaseous signalling molecules, such as nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide already known to be active in mammals.

Given that Connexin 26 is found in many tissues and organs -- and, for example, mutations in it are the commonest genetic cause of deafness -- the findings could have far-reaching effects as they open up potential new ways to control physiological processes such as brain blood flow, breathing, hearing, reproduction and birth.

Carbon dioxide is the by-product of metabolism in all cells. Dissolved carbon dioxide can combine with water to increase acidity in the blood. As mammals produce carbon dioxide at a fast rate, it is vital that the body measures its levels so that breathing rates can be adjusted to exhale excess carbon dioxide and thus regulate blood pH within the narrow limits compatible with life.

Until now the body's regulation of blood acid levels was thought to be triggered by measuring pH levels of the blood. However the new findings from Warwick indicate that the body can sense carbon dioxide levels directly through Connexin 26.

Professor Nick Dale said: "Carbon dioxide is the unavoidable by-product of our metabolic system -- human beings and other mammals produce huge amounts of it every day.

"The exciting implication of our study is that carbon dioxide is much more than just a waste product: it can directly signal physiological information, and our work shows the mechanism by which this happens via Connexin 26.

"As Connexin 26 is present in many tissues and organs, for example the brain, skin, inner ear, liver and the uterus during pregnancy, this discovery should herald a re-evaluation of the potential for carbon dioxide signalling in many different processes such as the control of blood flow, breathing, hearing, reproduction and birth."

Connexin 26 comprises six identical subunits. Carbon dioxide makes a chemical bond to the side chain a particular amino acid. This modified side chain can then form a bridge to a closely oriented amino acid in the adjacent subunit. A total of six carbon dioxide molecules can bind to make six bridges between subunits. These bridges force the Connexin 26 protein to alter its conformation thereby signalling the presence and concentration of carbon dioxide.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Meigh, S. A. Greenhalgh, T. L. Rodgers, M. J. Cann, D. I. Roper, N. Dale. CO2 directly modulates connexin 26 by formation of carbamate bridges between subunits. eLife, 2013; 2 (0): e01213 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.01213

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Carbon dioxide’s new-found signalling role could be applied to blood flow, birth and deafness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113092215.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2013, November 13). Carbon dioxide’s new-found signalling role could be applied to blood flow, birth and deafness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113092215.htm
University of Warwick. "Carbon dioxide’s new-found signalling role could be applied to blood flow, birth and deafness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113092215.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) 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:
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