Publication date: Sep 27, 2019
Although important cellular processes in plants and animals were known to take place in organelles (larger structures enclosed by a membrane, such as the nucleus or mitochondria), it is only in the past few years that scientists have discovered that there is another type of structure playing a critical role in the organisation of cellular processes: membraneless organelles.
“Researchers are discovering a growing number of biological processes that take place in these organelles, separated from the rest of the cell’s content,” says Karsten Weis, Professor of Biochemistry at ETH Zurich.
The ATPases condense into large clusters, leading to a phase separation similar to that of oil in water-and membraneless cell organelles form.
Further experiments with DEAD-box ATPases from human and bacterial cells indicated to the researchers that this process works in a very similar way in all types of organisms.
Organelles create order Moreover, the ATPases not only ensure the self-organised formation of organelles, but also use ATP-dependent binding of RNA to regulate the transport of RNA molecules and proteins into these structures, where the RNA molecules are collected.
In living cells, the ETH researchers have even observed how RNA is transported through several different membraneless organelles.
“This suggests that further processing of the RNA molecules takes place step by step in different organelles,” says Weis.
The findings of his research group now suggest that DEAD-box ATPases help to keep the organelles in a fluid state-thereby preventing the formation of dangerous aggregates.
|disease||MESH||amyotrophic lateral sclerosis|