Molecular scissors stabilize the cell's cytoskeleton | 11/17/2017 | Staff
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Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen, Switzerland, have for the first time elucidated the structure of important enzymes in human cells that alter essential building blocks of the cellular cytoskeleton. This reveals the missing part of a cycle that regulates the build-up or breakdown of supporting elements of the cell. The enzymes investigated work as molecular scissors and can be involved in the development of diseases, for example, cancer and diseases of the nervous system. Their structural elucidation provides approaches for the development of specific inhibitors and perhaps new therapies. The researchers gained detailed insights into the structure of the enzymes with the help of the Swiss Light Source SLS. They have now published their results in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The so-called microtubule filaments give human cells their shape, play a decisive role in cell division, and help to transport substances through the cell. The tasks they perform are of such central importance for life that they are found in the cells of all plants, animals and humans. Microtubules can grow up to several micrometers, which is roughly the thickness of an average human hair.

Structure - Microtubules - Consists - Arrangement - Building

The tubular structure of microtubules consists of a regular arrangement of two building blocks, the so-called tubulins (α-tubulin and β-tubulin). In a healthy cell, new microtubules are constantly formed from these building blocks and are destroyed again. This process is regulated by numerous mechanisms, one of which is the so-called tubulin-tyrosine cycle. The amino acid tyrosine is either attached to the α-tubulin or cut off from it.

The enzymes that attach tyrosine to α-tubulin have been known for a long time. Without these enzymes, nerve cells cannot connect properly in the brain. The enzymes that remove tyrosine from α-tubulin, the so-called vasohibins, were not identified until 2017.

Amino - Acid

Cutting off the amino acid...
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