Speakers: Alan Schroit (UT Southwestern Medical Center), David Ucker (University of Illinois at Chicago), Ari Helenius (ETH Hönggerberg, Switzerland), Chris Reutelingsperger (Maastricht University, The Netherlands), and Philip E. Thorpe (UT Southwestern Medical Center)Presented by the Cancer & Signaling Discussion Group
Reported by Sarah Webb | Posted July 16, 2012
Over the last century, the cell membrane has progressed, in the corpus of scientific knowledge, from a vague boundary between the cell's interior and exterior to become a complex, dynamic bilayer of lipid molecules. A growing body of research points to the sweeping and subtle roles that phospholipid molecules play in biology and medicine. In 1925 Gorter and Grendel determined that the cell membrane consisted of a lipid bilayer, but only in the 1950s did scientists confirm that idea with electron microscopy. In the last 40 years, researchers have shown that the outside and inside of those lipid bilayers contain vastly different distributions of various lipid molecules. Plasma membranes can include lipid rafts, clusters of lipids whose composition differs from those surrounding them. These structures are constantly changing, and their dynamics alongside integral membrane proteins regulate signaling, transport, enzyme activity, adhesion, and cell shape, structure, and movement.
Phosphatidylserine (PS)—a phospholipid—tends to be sequestered in the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane, and that asymmetry and any changes in the distribution of PS lead to various biological consequences. That distribution may also play a role in apoptotic signaling and immunogenic responses. So studies in this area not only answer important functional biological questions, but may also be important to treating cancer and infectious diseases.
On May 1, 2012 in a symposium titled Phosphatidylserine Asymmetry and Cell Survival: Therapeutic Applications in Cancer and Infectious Disease, organized by Kenneth Olive of Columbia University Medical Center, Philip Thorpe of UT Southwestern Medical Center, George Zavoico of MLV & Co., and Jennifer Henry of the Academy, researchers gathered to discuss PS and how knowledge of this lipid and its dynamics is shaping our understanding of biology and medicine. Alan Schroit from UT Southwestern Medical Center reviewed for the audience how asymmetry is maintained in the lipid bilayer and the role of that asymmetry in physiological processes. David Ucker of the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at the link between PS and the externalization of glycolytic enzymes and at how this process provides innate immunity against apoptosis. Ari Helenius of the University of Helsinki talked about the role of PS in viral entry to cells. Chris Reutelingsperger of Maastricht University described the use of annexin A5 to target PS and to diagnose and treat PS-related diseases. Finally, Philip Thorpe of UT Southwestern Medical Center described studies of bavituximab, an antibody-based drug that targets PS and that is currently in clinical testing.
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Presentations available from:
George Zavoico, PhD (MLV & Co.)
Alan Schroit, PhD (UT Southwestern Medical Center)
David Ucker, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Ari Helenius, PhD (ETH Hönggerberg, Switzerland)
Chris Reutelingsperger, PhD (Maastricht University, The Netherlands)
Philip E. Thorpe, PhD (UT Southwestern Medical Center)