Chemists Get Grip on Slippery Lipids
The ability of the body's cells to correctly receive and convey signals is crucial to good health. Lipids, or fats, play a critical role in this regulation by providing spaces for proteins to gather and network. They are helped in this process by protein molecules called lipid binding domains. Understanding how these domains work may open up new targets of opportunity for drug development to treat illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and various inflammatory diseases. Studying lipid binding domains is a specialty of Wonhwa Cho, distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In two recently released papers appearing in the EMBO Journal and the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cho and his associates describe mechanisms by which a particular binding domain -- the PX or "Phox" -- recognize specific lipids and interact with cell membranes to modulate functions.
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