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 24, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Influenza Vaccine Shown to Decrease the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
JUN 24, 2022
Influenza Vaccine Shown to Decrease the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder affecting memory and mental functions that currently affects over 6 ...
JUN 25, 2022
Health & Medicine
Germs Lurking in Recreational Water and How to Avoid Them
JUN 25, 2022
Germs Lurking in Recreational Water and How to Avoid Them
The National Institute of Health published its tips for water safety in the NIH News in Health June issue. This month&rs ...
JUL 03, 2022
Neuroscience
Loss of Smell Reduces Enjoyment When Eating and Cooking
JUL 03, 2022
Loss of Smell Reduces Enjoyment When Eating and Cooking
Olfactory loss- or loss of smell- reduces enjoyment in eating and cooking. The corresponding study was published in Food ...
JUL 05, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Powassan Virus: Lethal Tick-Borne Virus Continues Slow Spread in the United States
JUL 05, 2022
Powassan Virus: Lethal Tick-Borne Virus Continues Slow Spread in the United States
As covered by Labroots in 2017, Powassan virus is an often-lethal tick-borne virus that currently has no treatment. Thou ...
JUL 11, 2022
Neuroscience
Chronic Stress Reduces Iron Absorption in Newborns by 15%
JUL 11, 2022
Chronic Stress Reduces Iron Absorption in Newborns by 15%
Chronic stress in the last months of pregnancy can reduce a growing fetus’s ability to absorb iron by up to 15%. T ...
Loading Comments...