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Old molecules and new complexes: researchers at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have discovered cell membrane complexes called ceramidosomes that may be a new target for drugs to kill cancer cells. This discovery began while figuring out the unexpected cancer cell-killing activity of an FDA-approved multiple sclerosis drug called FTY720 (Gilenya, Novartis). Their findings are reported in the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
"These complexes are really interesting as they form in the cell membrane and cause the cells to explode," says Besim Ogretmen, Ph.D., Endowed Chair in Lipidomics & Drug Discovery in the SmartState Center for Lipidomics, Pathobiology and Therapy at Hollings Cancer Center and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Ogretmen - Lab - Term - Ceramidosome - Structure
The Ogretmen Lab coined the term "ceramidosome" when they identified this complex structure made up of lipid (fatty) molecules called ceramide, and two other protein components. The identification of "-somes" has been growing in recent years as researchers are getting a better understanding of which individual molecules come together to form important but previously unknown functions.
Simply put, a cell is like an egg and the cell membrane is like the eggshell. Just as eggshells have tiny openings or pores that allow for air and moisture to move in and out, cell membranes have thousands of pores. Ceramides are chains of lipid molecules that are in the cell membrane and have a function in controlling cell death. The Ogretmen research team discovered that ceramides can come together with other molecules and form a new type of cell membrane pores: ceramidosomes.
Ceramidosomes - Membrane - Pores - Cell - Membrane
Ceramidosomes are large membrane pores that cause the cell membrane to ripple. A rippled cell membrane is weak, and the cell explodes and dies, similar to how a cracked eggshell cannot contain the contents of the egg.
The Ogretmen Lab...
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