Cellular strategy to eliminate disease-related debris
Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a method that may help cells eliminate disease-related debris. Further research may lead to new treatments for diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic disorders, Down syndrome and possibly even diseases related to aging. The findings were published by the journal Molecular Cell.
The cells have the ability to rid themselves of unwanted or dysfunctional organelles and proteins. During the \”autophagy\” process, debris is tagged with an ubiquitin compound and then degraded in tiny cellular vacuoles. Scientists have been trying to find drugs that regulate autophagy, which is impaired in certain cancers and diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and metabolic disease. Autophagy is a complex process, and little is known, for example, how cells know which components to label with ubiquitin.
Hirokazu Armoto, a chemical biologist at Tohoku University and his colleagues discovered that autophagy was initiated when streptococci invaders were tagged with guanine. Researchers wondered if the guanine tag could be used to initiate autophagy in other cell components.