Scientists in the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have discovered how some proteins interact to turn two different signals into a single integrated output. This discovery will allow precisely tuning course of actions of drugs, by altering the signal between these partnered proteins.
Institute says that this discovery is very close to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s idea of a first-rate intelligence – he said it is ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
It is rather difficult to explain this new discovery to common public without background in biosciences. Associate Professor Kendall Nettles, lead author of the study, put it this way: “thyroid, vitamin D and retinoid receptors all rely on integrated signals—their own signal plus a partner receptor. These new findings will have important implications for drug design by clearly defining exactly how these signals become integrated, so we will be able to predict how changes in a drug’s design could affect signalling.”
In order to figure out the mechanism through which two signalling pathways become integrated, team of researchers had to use a variety of techniques and technologies and conduct and extensive research. Scientists used such techniques as nuclear magnetic resonance, X-ray crystallography and hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry.
Research focused only on a small subset of nuclear receptors, a large family of proteins that regulate gene expression in response to signals from various binding partners, including steroids and fats. As soon as these receptors sense appearance of these binding partners, they send out signals that trigger start of other cellular processes.
These nuclear receptors bind various molecules and in some instances some of these receptors physically interact with each other to integrate different signals. And scientists knew it before. However, they note that previous researches accepted these facts without any structural evidence for communication between receptors.
This is the very first time any scientists have ever looked at what is actually going on at the atomic level between these receptors. And although it is hard to understand how significant this new knowledge is, scientists say that it will allow for a better drug design, which is always helpful and needed.