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Understanding the scaffolds of cells

A recent molecular biology research project has investigated proteins that control actin, the major scaffolding protein in the cells of almost all life forms.
Understanding the scaffolds of cells
Actin is a protein found in abundance in the cells of nearly every living organism, and is primarily responsible for maintaining the overall structure of the cell. Actin also plays a role in moving other proteins around the cell, and in holding multiple cells together, a process controlled by actin–nucleator complexes (ANCs).

Nearly 30 different ANCs have been identified, but scientists are still trying to understand the structure and functions of these complexes. The EU-funded 'Structural studies of actin nucleator complexes' (ACTIN-NUCLEATORS) project aimed to elucidate the 3D structure of one such ANC.

Researchers chose to study FHOD1 and Cdk12 (ANCs in human cells) as well as Osh6 (a yeast ANC) and a phosphoglucose isomerase enzyme from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The majority of the work focused on generating a 3D structure for FHOD1.

To achieve this, researchers expressed large amounts of the FHOD1 protein in a laboratory-based protein production system using insect cells. This process generated enough FHOD1 protein to be purified to the extent required for structural analysis.

Work on the other proteins has resulted in several publications in well-respected academic journals. Overall, ACTIN-NUCLEATORS has advanced our understanding of ANCs, which will contribute in the long term to human health worldwide.

Related information

Keywords

Molecular biology, actin, actin–nucleator complexes, structural studies, FHOD1
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