Toward Designing Medications To Enhance Innate Immunity: A Single VSOP Can Do 'Proton' Magic
International research group led by Yasushi Okamura, a professor in Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, and Peter Larsson, a professor in Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon, US, found that a single protein of VSOP, Voltage Sensor Only Protein/ Hv1, can carry protons even without making a multimeric complex.
Since VSOP is known to be expressed in phagocytes such as macrophages and neutrophils that remove infected pathogens, this finding may help in the design of new medications for enhancing the activities of innate immunity.
Usually, ion channels on cell membrane form a multimeric complex to make an assembling hole to carry ions though. Surprisingly, the research group found that this VSOP protein forms a dimer but each single subunit can carry protons without any assembling hole. They reached these conclusions through using the techniques of FRET (Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer) and biochemistry.
The VSOP keeps the cell inside in an alkaline condition. This finding helps to explain how VSOP regulates pH conditions during the process of removing pathogens such as fungi, bacteria and virus.
"It is still not clear that how proton can go through a single VSOP protein, but here we clearly showed that a single subunit of VSOP can carry protons without making any assembling hole. This finding may help to design new medications for promoting activities of innate immunity or prevention of abnormal state of immunity such as asthma", said Professor Okamura.
Researchers report this work in Proceeding National Academy of Sciences (published online on the week of June 16, 2008).
National Institute for Physiological Sciences. June 2008.
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