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Posted: Jan 13, 2014
European network to carry out research on protein life cycle
(Nanowerk News) Proteins are one of the main cell components and are involved in all biological processes. Our good health depends largely on the correct 'birth' and 'death' cycle of these molecules, so imbalances in this cycle can cause various types of neurological and autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc.
A collaborative network has been created to promote research in this field. The network is formed by more than 100 laboratories belonging to different companies, universities and research centres from 20 European countries. The Proteostasis initiative, supported by the European Union (EU), is led by the Basque centre for research in biosciences, CIC bioGUNE, in collaboration with the Inbiomed foundation, and includes groups that carry out research on the degradation and modification of cellular proteins.
Under normal conditions our body produces proteins, which carry out the cellular functions and are then eliminated. The balance between the production, function and degradation is known as protein homeostasis. If this balance is broken it can cause neurological diseases or cancer, among other diseases.
For example, mutations in ubiquitin-related proteins, such as parkin or UCH-L1, can occur, leading to forms of hereditary Parkinson's disease. Ubiquitin is a small protein tha controls protein homeostasis, as it might promote the degradation of other cellular proteins when it binds to them. There are also other proteins that are similar to ubiquitin which modify the function of other cellular proteins when they bind to them, and this may affect homeostasis. The importance of these molecules has led many scientific groups to carry out research in this field.
As the EU is aware of the importance of understanding the cellular protein modification processes carried out by ubiquitin-like proteins, especially regarding diseases that are caused when this process is altered, it will support this network, which will create synergies between the different actors involved in the research on proteins homeostasis.
Specifically, the aim of Proteostasis is to promote research in this field, strengthen relationships and promote information exchange between the laboratories and, ultimately, to help to use the findings in the clinical field. As part of this initiative, meetings, workshops and exchanges will take place in order to share knowledge between the different entities.
"The network has two sides, because both basic and applied research groups are participating," explains Rosa Barrio, CIC bioGUNE researcher and project manager. "Proteostasis is clearly translational, that is, it aims to stimulate communication to promote the implementation of the knowledge that is gained in the laboratories."
This collaboration network will start up in 2014, will last four years and will be an open initiative, that is, any group that carries out research on protein homeostasis may take part.
The EU will fund the project through the COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) programme. This programme is an intergovernmental cooperation framework in the fields of science and technology that aims to promote collaboration and effectiveness in research that is carried out in different European countries.