Protein Moonlighting: A class of proteins involved in essential cell functions has an unexpected role, MCDB scientists discover
In 2013, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists for their contributions to uncovering the mechanisms governing vesicle transport in cells. Their explanations provided both a conceptual and a mechanistic understanding of basic processes at the most fundamental level. At the heart of this Nobel Prize-winning intracellular process lies SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors), a superfamily of 60 proteins in mammalian cells that transport lipids and membrane proteins across the cells by facilitating the fusion of vesicles to their target membranes. Researchers led by MCDB professor Thomas Weimbs have now discovered a surprising, additional function for syntaxin 3S, a soluble form of a SNARE protein. The researchers found a new signaling pathway widely used by human and other mammalian cells. The team’s results appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.