A new protein gene that encodes a receptor that binds to a protein in the immune system could help researchers identify people at risk of developing the disease.
Key points:Tissue biology is a sub-field of biology that studies the structure, function and evolution of cellsTissue biologists are interested in identifying genes and proteins that may have clinical applications in human diseaseResearchers say the protein gene could be a “gateway” to other protein genes that may help identify individuals at risk for developing the autoimmune disease.
“This could have a huge impact on the future of the field,” said Dr David Balfour, from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Functional Genomics and the Department of Biological Engineering and Science at the University.
“The ability to identify individual proteins that play a role in a disease will lead to better diagnosis and treatments.”
If you have the right gene, you can then sequence it, and you can start looking at how that gene is interacting with the immune systems of other cells and what the response is to those cells.
“The gene, called the protein receptor, is a protein that binds a protein on immune cells called T cells.
When the immune response to a disease is triggered, it is known as an inflammatory response, and it can lead to a number of health problems.
Tissue biochemist Dr Jeroen van den Bergh from the Department in Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Technology (KNIT) said the protein had not been previously identified, but the researchers had recently identified it in a virus called herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).”
We found it in the virus and thought it might be a possible link to other proteins that were expressed in the T cells of people who are at risk,” he said.”
So we have started looking at it, but what we’ve found is it’s not a protein we could actually sequence, but rather a receptor.
“We’re now in the process of identifying that protein, which will allow us to identify the specific gene that’s involved in the disease and what that receptor does.”‘
It’s a pathway for other proteins to be expressed in that T cell’Dr van den Mergh said the gene had the potential to lead to other molecular and functional discoveries, and suggested it could be used to develop new therapies.
“It’s been identified as a pathway that leads to other molecules that are expressed in T cells,” he told the ABC.
“For example, there are some proteins that are called transcription factors.”
Those proteins are thought to play a central role in the inflammatory response in autoimmune diseases, and they’re also thought to be involved in other autoimmune diseases.
“The research is reported in Nature Communications.
Dr Balfours work with a team of scientists led by Associate Professor Ian Balfou from the Centre for Molecular Immunology at the Department at KNIT, who had previously identified the protein as a possible target in the discovery of a protein receptor.
He said the new protein could provide a “giant leap forward” in the field, and could be useful in diagnosing patients who are already at risk.”
Dr van der Bergh said he was excited to be working with Dr Bafour and his team on the research.””
It’s something that has not been discovered before, and I think we’re in a new era of understanding the immune pathways and the molecular pathways involved in those immune responses.”
Dr van der Bergh said he was excited to be working with Dr Bafour and his team on the research.
“I think it’s going to be really exciting because we’ve never seen such a close association between an immune response and a disease,” he explained.
“What we’re finding now is that the gene in question, called pCR4, is involved in a number different protein reactions in different cells and in other tissues, so it’s a possible pathway for molecules that may be used in the future to target the immune responses and the disease.”‘
Tissue proteins’The researchers have already found that the protein has an impact on a variety of proteins that control a range of cell functions.
“In particular, we found that it interacts with the protein receptors of T cells in a way that leads them to express a specific type of protein called p CR4, which is associated with the production of a receptor in a cell, and this receptor is the same type of receptor that we find in people with autoimmune diseases,” Dr van der Mergh explained.
In other words, it may be a pathway to other tissue proteins that could potentially be used for targeting the disease, and to treat patients.
“One of the important things is to identify whether the protein is expressed in different tissues,” Dr Van der Merglies said.
He added it was also important to understand whether the gene was functional.
“At this point, we don’t have a functional version of the protein, but we have a receptor for it, which means it could potentially have a therapeutic application,” he added.