Past studies show malfunctions in the recycling system of cells have been associated with diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and muscle wasting. A team of researchers at Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently discovered a new way that the cell’s protein recycler, the proteasome, disposes of unwanted and potentially toxic proteins, which could aid in development of new treatments.
Stefan Maas, PhD, program director in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the National Institutes of Health, commented on the significance of the findings in a release. He said:
This discovery reveals fundamental insights into protein degradation, a process important for normal cell biology, and a key factor in disorders such as muscle wasting and neurodegeneration. Intriguingly, the findings also enlighten ongoing research on cancer therapies, exemplifying the impact of basic research on drug development.
This image depicts how actin filaments (marked in red) in a cell guide unwanted proteins towards the proteasome (shown in green), which breaks down the molecules into basic parts for re-use.