22 Jul Lister Fellow helps identify the proteins that activate the fastest molecule in our nerve cells
Researchers at Warwick University have recently identified the two proteins responsible for activating the fastest molecule present in human nerve cells.
The molecule is known as KIF1C and acts as a protein-based molecular motor that moves along microtubules (microscopic tubular tracks).
By travelling in this manner KIF1C converts chemical into mechanical energy in order to transport vital items of cargo required in normal neurological functions.
Defective molecular motors have been linked to spastic paraplegia and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Molecular motors are required to ‘park’ until required to move cargo to other areas along neurons that can be up to three feet in length.
This new research explains how KIF1C prevents itself from attaching to the microtubule tracks by folding on to itself when it isn’t loaded with cargo.
Two proteins, PTNPN21 and Hook3, were also identified that attach to the KIF1C molecular motor in order to unfold and activate it, so it can begin its marathon journey transporting cargo.
It is hoped that the findings can help inform the development of new therapies for neurological disorders.
One of the lead investigators in the project is Lister Fellow Dr Anne Straube, an Associate Professor the Warwick Medical School Cell and Development Biology department.
The research has recently been published in Nature Communications in a paper entitled PTPN21 and Hook3 relieve KIF1C autoinhibition and activate intracellular transport.
We are delighted to share Anne’s latest achievements and are looking forward to hearing more about her work in the future.