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These new pathways might offer routes for understanding and perhaps even treating these diseases, the study's scientists note.
"Surprisingly, cells often take an approach that seems quite inefficient," explains Christine Vogel, an associate professor at New York University's Department of Biology and the study's lead author. "However, discovering these unexpected routes helps us to better understand how an organism responds to a major affliction and, with it, opens entirely new pathways to support the cells in their endeavor and fix the disease."
Cell - Body - Protein - Molecules - Minute
Each cell in the human body produces as many as 1.5 million protein molecules every minute -- and folding the proteins into their right shape is a vital and enormous task. If too many proteins misfold and accumulate, cellular health is in immediate danger and may eventually cause the cell to die.
For that reason, the "cellular stress response" is central to many human diseases. Misfolded proteins occur in rapidly dividing cancer cells that produce many more protein molecules than normal -- or in virus infected cells where the virus hijacks the host's protein manufacturing machinery.
Cells - Mechanisms - Accumulation - Proteins - Synthesis
Therefore, cells develop multiple mechanisms to fight the accumulation of misfolded proteins, to stop the synthesis of proteins, and refold existing ones properly.
Past research has examined these behaviors in isolation. However, recent technological advances allow scientists to study these cellular processes as a whole -- and specifically offer a new view on previously undetected relationships and pathways.
Research - Team - Vogel - Scientists - NYU
The research team, led by Vogel, included scientists from NYU, the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems, Berlin's Humboldt University, Illumina, and National University of Singapore.
Combining multiple cutting-edge techniques and analyses, the researchers examined the response of human cancer cells to misfolded proteins over several hours and from multiple vantage points. They then developed computational tools to integrate these data and extract a signal for each of the thousands of genes...
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