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Unlocking secrets of immune system proteins: A potential path to new treatments

Detailed imaging reveals intricate workings of key receptors, offering fresh insights into combating disease

Date:
October 17, 2023
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), researchers captured unprecedented images of key immune system receptors interacting with messenger proteins, elucidating how the receptors change shape upon activation and transmit signals within the cell. The findings suggest new pathways for developing therapeutic molecules for diseases such as COVID-19, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
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In the intricate dance of our body's defenses against harmful invaders, certain immune system proteins play pivotal roles. New research from the Bridge Institute at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, in collaboration with international teams from India, Australia and Switzerland, has shed light on these proteins.

The work potentially paves the way for innovative treatments for a range of diseases, including severe cases of COVID-19, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

Central to our immune response is the complement cascade, a series of events activated when potential threats are detected. This process produces protein messengers, C3a and C5a, which in turn activate specific receptors on cells, setting off a cascade of internal signals. The precise mechanisms of these receptors, especially the elusive C5aR1, have remained a mystery.

Using the advanced technique of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), the researchers captured detailed images of these receptors in action. These images unveil how the receptors interact with molecules, change shape upon activation and transmit signals within the cell.

The study's lead author, Cornelius Gati, assistant professor of biological sciences, chemistry, and quantitative and computational biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, remarked on the findings, noting, "This research offers significant and comprehensive insights into a crucial receptor family within the immune system."

The study's revelations suggest potential avenues for the development of drugs targeting these receptors to treat various diseases, added Gati, who heads USC's cryo-EM facility, which is available for use by researchers around the globe.

As the global community continues to grapple with diseases that impact millions, understanding the nuances of our immune system becomes ever more critical. This research, published in the journal Cell on Oct. 17, contributes to that understanding, providing a foundation for future studies aiming to harness the power of our body's natural defenses.


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Materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Manish K. Yadav, Jagannath Maharana, Ravi Yadav, Shirsha Saha, Parishmita Sarma, Chahat Soni, Vinay Singh, Sayantan Saha, Manisankar Ganguly, Xaria X. Li, Samanwita Mohapatra, Sudha Mishra, Htet A. Khant, Mohamed Chami, Trent M. Woodruff, Ramanuj Banerjee, Arun K. Shukla, Cornelius Gati. Molecular basis of anaphylatoxin binding, activation, and signaling bias at complement receptors. Cell, 2023; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.09.020

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Unlocking secrets of immune system proteins: A potential path to new treatments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/10/231017123433.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2023, October 17). Unlocking secrets of immune system proteins: A potential path to new treatments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 23, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/10/231017123433.htm
University of Southern California. "Unlocking secrets of immune system proteins: A potential path to new treatments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/10/231017123433.htm (accessed June 23, 2024).

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