Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have identified a dual-function protein, which they believe, can be a boon to the field of medicine.
They have come across a protein named mDpy-30 that affects both the expression of genes and the transport of proteins.
"We first found that this protein has a dual location in the cell," said Dzwokai Ma, senior author and assistant professor in UCSB's Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.
"That spurred us to investigate this protein further, because location is always linked to function," Ma added.
Proteins that are most sensitive to mDpy-30 are pivotal to the movement of a cell, said researchers.
"Indeed, we have obtained preliminary evidence that mDpy-30 is an important regulator of cell movement," he said.
"The movement of a cell is essential to myriad biological functions such as neural networking, proper immunological function, and wound healing.
"Consequently, when these processes go awry, they can result in the development or progression of human disease, including cancer metastasis," he added.
The researchers are planning to conduct further studies to understand the particular role of mDpy-30 in protein transport regulation, and whether or how this function is coordinated with gene expression during cell movement.
"Further study could lead to a boon in medicine," he said.
The findings appear in the Journal of Cell Biology.