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Scientific Breakthrough on Cellular Connection

The study called the 'atypical cadherin fat directly regulates mitochondrial function and metabolic state' has been published in Cell prestigious science magazine. Dr. Helen McNeill of Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute has discovered an exciting biochemical connection that has potential use for diseases linked to mitochondria and that holds vital value for mitochondria being primary source of energy production within our cells.

This work is very important as it points out how cells become organized into tissues and how growth is regulated during development. Her team carried out this interesting discovery by focusing on mutations in the fat gene. Protein product of this gene called 'fat' behaves as the membrane to support adhesion and communication between cells. Coummunication needs a medium which is activated in  deadly cancers such as liver, brest, ovarian and sarcomas.

It is amazing  to find that fat proteins interact directly with mitochondria in a cell, regulating the cell’s metabolism. There is still a lot to know about how a cell knows when to release the fat protein into mitochondria, but for now, this new linkage opens up a whole new way of thinking about how cellular energy is controlled as well as new ideas about how to shut down cancer cell growth.

When mitochondria stops working properly, cells no longer have an efficient energy source. Instead, cells will switch to glycolysis to produce the energy they require, known as the Warburg effect. Similarly, tumour cells have glycolytic rates up to 200 times higher compared to normal cells. Since the mitochondria is responsible for producing energy for essential cellular functions, problems with mitochondria can also lead to illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. McNeill and her research team are investigating the specific role the fat gene plays with the hope of identifying new treatment targets for cancer and other diseases related to fat malfunction. You can read the full atypical cadherin fat directly regulates mitochondrial function and metabolic state research paper here.

Image credit: via Flickr's Creative Commons

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Rinaldo Ugrina

Rinaldo Ugrina

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