Discovery of a molecular switch to stop inflammation?
Although the immune system is vital for protection and healing, it can overreact causing chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is activated by receptors that recognise certain molecular patterns found on microbes or dead cells. The receptors are called pattern-recognition receptors (PRR).
A team has now identified MYSM1, a molecule in the cell core (nucleus) of resting cells. They have shown that during infection or inflammation, MYSM1 accumulates outside of the nucleus, in the cytoplasm where it disrupts the function of signalling molecules that activate PRR pathways, thereby stopping inflammation.
“MYSM1 can be said to act like a molecular switch that can turn off several inflammatory pathways,” says Nelson Gekara, research leader. “Therefore lack of MYSM1 in animal results in unrestrained activation of the innate immune system, leading to inflammatory diseases.
“The discovery of MYSM1 is a major milestone in our understanding of how our immune system works, and how its response could be controlled in order to prevent inflammatory diseases.”
The team is now screening for small molecule compounds that are able to modulate the MYSM1 molecule activity and hope they will find new therapeutics against infections and other inflammatory diseases.
Click here to read the original research.
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Image credit: Marcin Wichary