UW–Madison Scientists Reveal Inner Workings of an Essential Protein Trafficking Complex (COPII)

This image is a 3D reconstruction showing sites (in red) where the Coat Protein Complex II (COPII) facilitates the packaging of various proteins within a mammalian cell. The green areas are the endoplasmic reticulum, where protein sorting and trafficking takes place. (Image courtesy of Dr. Anjon Audhya).

Like mail carriers who manage to deliver their parcels through snow, rain, heat and gloom, a critical group of mammalian proteins helps cells function properly even under less-than-ideal conditions. Using state-of-the-art cell imaging and genome editing technology, University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison scientists have begun to unravel how this collection of proteins performs its essential service. The discovery could eventually help researchers better understand and develop new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes and those that cause immune dysfunction. Led by Anjon Audhya, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, the research team sought to better understand how the Coat Protein Complex II (COPII) functions. COPII is an enormously important group of proteins responsible for transporting roughly a third of all proteins that function in mammalian cells.

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