Study furthers understanding of inner cell signaling

A researcher at UT Southwestern has helped further the understanding of signal transduction by a special protein that is located within the cell plasma membrane.

Dr. Richard Anderson, chairman of cell biology and contributing author of the study, said this work is an extension of research initiated by his lab several years ago showing that signal transduction (the movement of signals from outside the cell to inside) by the protein Rac1 is compartmentalized in caveolae.

Caveolae are enclosed, active micro-domains in the plasma membrane. They are believed to be involved in the receptor-mediated uptake of small molecules and signal transduction pathways.

In the study reported in the Feb. 6 issue of Science, Dr. Anderson and researchers from Spain, Scripps Research Institute and the University of Virginia discovered the caveolae internalize when cell attachment is disrupted, and the Rac1 binding sites are internalized with the caveolae. This causes a loss of both caveolae and Rac1 from the cell surface and a failure in integrin signaling, said Dr. Anderson, holder of the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Integrin is a special receptor protein that promotes adhesion of cells to other cells or to extracellular material. It mediates various biological processes, such as wound healing and embryo genesis.

The research was supported by a Lady Tate Memorial Trust Inter national Award for Research in Leukemia, a special fellow award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America and grants from Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologia in Spain, the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, and the Perot Foundation.


Media contact: Scott Maier