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Family Of Proteins Plays a Significant Role In Cellular Pump Dynamics, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 23, 2014 05:43 PM EDT
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Researchers have discovered how a family of proteins - cation diffusion facilitators (CDFs) - regulates an important cellular cycle where a cell's energy generated is converted to necessary cellular functions, according to a new study. 

Researchers said the findings of the study could lead to better treatment of Parkinson's, chronic liver disease and heart disease. 

"CDF is a major protein family type found in all forms of life," said senior author Mark R. Chance, PhD, the Charles W. and Iona A. Mathias Professor of Cancer Research, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in the press release. "Mutations or altered regulation of human CDFs modify the concentrations of metal ions critical to cell function and are associated with key human diseases, including those affecting endocrine, neurologic, hepatic and cardiovascular systems."

Researchers studied a form of CDF found in bacteria where the protein YiiP functions like a motor, using energy in the form of a gradient of protons (hydrogen atoms) to pump zinc ions out of cells, the release added. 

"Membrane proteins (including CDF) are some of the most important cellular drug targets, including G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR), which represent 50 percent of the non-antibiotic drug market." Chance said.

Researchers also used mass spectrometry which is powerful atom-and-molecule recognition technology to study the labeled proteins. 

"We have now produced high-resolution pictures of signal transmission and ion transport mechanisms for a range of ion channels and GPCRs," Chance added in the press release. "Our work in CDFs is a visible example of the power of these new technologies to solve important problems in the membrane protein field. We must continue to examine CDFs to understand their mechanisms of action, especially in the context of drug effects on the biochemical mechanisms of action."

Findings of the study has been published online in the journal Nature

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