MAR 29, 2022 3:47 PM PDT

A Master Regulator That Helps Power Immune Cells on the Attack

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

When pathogens infect cells, the immune system has to launch a counterattack. Scientists have now learned more about how immune cells boost their power when it's time to eliminate pathogenic invaders in tissues. The findings have been reported in the journal of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

In this study, the researchers identified a protein that can improve the efficiency of mitochondria, power-generating organelles in cells, allowing mitochondria to produce more power. They named the protein Atossa. The research was done using a fruit fly model, but the investigators believe the work is relevant to human physiology because the fruit fly protein is very similar to the human version of this protein.

The Atossa protein can act as both an accelerator and a gear shift, said senior study author Professor Daria Siekhaus of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. Atossa can trigger "two metabolic enzymes that help send more fuel into the mitochondrial factory," as well as shifting "the mitochondria into a higher gear."

This shift happens because Atossa raises the levels of another protein known as Porthos, an RNA helicase. Porthos can help improve the production of many proteins, including some that ramp up the activity of mitochondria.

These findings were made possible by imaging live cells in fruit fly embryos. Atossa acts in pioneer cells, which clear a path through tissue, and they need extra energy while that's happening. When Atossa was absent, the researchers saw that cell migration was reduced. The energy levels of cells without the Atossa gene were also reduced.

"We are very intrigued by the possibilities this opens up; for example, Atossa may be crucial for the upregulation of energy production, said first study author Dr. Shamsi Emtenani. That process would be crucial to "antibody production and the specification of white blood cells" in immune cells.

Proteins that are similar to Atossa have also been identified in brain cells, and defects in those proteins may be related to neurodegenerative disease, Emtenani added.

Sources: Institute of Science and Technology Austria, The EMBO Journal

 

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 15, 2022
Health & Medicine
Virus-Infected Pig Heart Transplanted Into a Human
MAY 15, 2022
Virus-Infected Pig Heart Transplanted Into a Human
The University of Maryland School of Medicine reached a medical milestone this year when it transplanted a genetically-e ...
JUN 11, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Inhaled Aerosol Vaccines More Effective than Nasal Sprays
JUN 11, 2022
Inhaled Aerosol Vaccines More Effective than Nasal Sprays
Inhaled aerosol vaccines provide more protection than nasal sprays and evoke a stronger immune response. The correspondi ...
JUN 12, 2022
Neuroscience
High Optimism Linked to Living Past 90 in Women
JUN 12, 2022
High Optimism Linked to Living Past 90 in Women
Higher levels of optimism are linked to a longer lifespan and living beyond age 90 in women across diverse racial and et ...
JUN 16, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Overuse of Asthma Inhalers Leads to More Severe Asthma and Hospitalization
JUN 16, 2022
Overuse of Asthma Inhalers Leads to More Severe Asthma and Hospitalization
Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by inflammation and narrowness in the airways that carry air in and out ...
JUL 01, 2022
Coronavirus
Nanobodies Could Protect Us From Every Variant
JUL 01, 2022
Nanobodies Could Protect Us From Every Variant
Immune reactive molecules called nanobodies, which are based on molecules found in llamas could offer robust protection ...
JUL 28, 2022
Immunology
The Impact of One Gut Microbe on Human Immunity is Deciphered
JUL 28, 2022
The Impact of One Gut Microbe on Human Immunity is Deciphered
Since researchers began to examine it in detail, the gut microbiome has been associated with myriad aspects of human hea ...
Loading Comments...