In proof-of-concept experiments, researchers at University of California demonstrate the ability to tune medically relevant cell behaviours by manipulating a key hub in cell communication networks. The manipulation of this communication node, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, makes it possible to reprogram large parts of a cell’s signaling network instead of targeting only a single receptor or cell signaling pathway.
The team state that the potential clinical value of the basic science discovery is the ability to eventually develop techniques, drugs or gene therapy approaches, for example, that could slow or reverse the progression of diseases, such as cancer, which are driven by abnormal cell signaling along multiple upstream pathways.
The current study showed the feasibility of targeting a hub in the cell signaling network to reset aberrant cell signaling from multiple pathways and receptors. The team engineered two peptides, protein fragments, to either turn on or turn off activity in a family of proteins called G proteins.
The team explain that G protein-coupled receptors, commonly found on the surface of cells, enable cells to sense and respond to what is happening around them. About 30 percent of all prescription drugs affect cells via G protein-coupled receptors. Previous studies have shown that G proteins can also be activated inside cells, not just on cell membranes, by other receptors, including a protein called GIV. Its activity is also implicated in cancer metastasis and other disease states. Both the ‘on’ and ‘off’ peptides were made from a piece of the GIV protein receptor.
Using a series of cell culture experiments, the researchers showed that ‘on’ peptides accelerated cells’ ability to migrate after scratch-wounding, a process linked to wound healing. The ‘off’ peptide, in contrast, reduced the aggressiveness of cancer cells and reduced the production of collagen by cells associated with liver fibrosis. In experiments with mice, the topical application of the ‘on’ peptides helped skin wounds heal faster.
The team surmise that the medical community can begin to tap an emerging new paradigm of G protein signaling.
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.
Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.
Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.
Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.