Aug 24, 2023

Scientists discover a previously unknown way cells break down proteins

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Short-lived proteins control gene expression in cells to carry out a number of vital tasks, from helping the brain form connections to helping the body mount an immune defense. These proteins are made in the nucleus and are quickly destroyed once they’ve done their job.

Despite their importance, the process by which these proteins get broken down and removed from cells once they are no longer needed has eluded scientists for decades—until now.

In a cross-departmental collaboration, researchers from Harvard Medical School identified a protein called midnolin that plays a key role in degrading many short-lived nuclear proteins. The study shows that midnolin does so by directly grabbing the proteins and pulling them into the cellular waste-disposal system, called the proteasome, where they are destroyed.

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