It's an incredibly important life process, and now researchers at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City have used an exciting new technology to better understand how one key player -- a protein called clathrin -- helps regulate endocytosis like a well-oiled machine. It may also give us insights into the kinds of disease states that can happen when clathrin-regulated endocytosis goes wrong.
The findings, already published online, will appear in the April print edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell, whose editors have chosen to highlight the Weill Cornell research due to its quality and broader significance to the field.
"This is a kind of cellular fine-tuning, and we know that deficits in this fine-tuning can wreak havoc on health," said Dr. Timothy Ryan, Professor of Biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medical College. "It's well known in obesity, for example, that even a tiny change in metabolic rate results in someone becoming obese."
Endocytosis involves the shuttling back and forth of vesicles (sac-like objects) filled with nutrients, neurotransmitters, or other compounds; usually from the cell surface to the cell interior.
Previous work at Dr. Ryan's lab has helped clarify the role of some of the key players in this process, including a ubiquitous protein called clathrin, found in nearly every cell type.
"From our previous work in brain synapses, we've learned that endocytosis is a machine that really runs quite fast, and in this latest study we were trying to figure out what those speed limits are, especially with regard to varying amounts of clathrin