A new protein discovery sheds light on how chemical information is transported within cells. A group of researchers, which includes Roger Sloboda, Professor of Biological Sciences, has found the protein EB1 in Chlamydomonas, a single-celled organism commonly used to study cell biology. Previous research has implicated EB1 in the progression of many colon cancers.
Published in the journal Current Biology, the research examined the chemical motors that power events in flagella, antenna-like structures on some cells. Specifically, the research focused on intraflagellar transport (IFT), the process where proteins required for flagellar growth and maintenance move within the flagella. The discovery of the protein EB1 at the tip of the flagella on Chlamydomonas furthers investigations into the role the protein plays in flagellar function and perhaps in regulating IFT itself.
The flagella beat rhythmically, moving the organism, and are made of nine double strands and a central pair of microtubules. According to Sloboda, similar IFT phenomena also take place in rod and cone cells of the human retina, in human kidney cells, and in nerve cells.