Frontiers in the Evolution and Engineering of Cellular Transporters and Receptors

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 July 2022) | Viewed by 5528

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
Interests: prebiotic chemical ecology; origins of life; origins of genetic code; origins of homochirality; molecular complementarity; origins of cellular transporters and receptors; STEM education; scientific creativity
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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Molecular Architecture, Molecular Machine Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, USA
Interests: self-assembly; soluble receptors; receptor design; protein engineering; origins of life

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Cellular transporters and receptors provide essential mechanisms for regulating living systems, yet surprisingly little research has gone into either their origins or ways to modify their properties in order to improve or alter their functions. We perceive the questions of origins and engineering of transporters and receptors to be linked problems because the same basic techniques are likely to be needed to investigate how the first, simple proteins evolved to transport molecules or messages across cell membranes as needed to generate novel variants with new functionalities. The purpose of this volume is to bring together investigators who have been working on these problems, whether from a theoretical, experimental, or engineering perspective, in order to develop a sense of what has been accomplished so far, how much remains to be explored, and ways in which natural evolutionary processes and engineering approaches can be integrated to create new possibilities.

Prof. Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein
Prof. Dr. Shuguang Zhang
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 4108 KiB  
Article
Protein Receptors Evolved from Homologous Cohesion Modules That Self-Associated and Are Encoded by Interactive Networked Genes
by Donard S. Dwyer
Life 2021, 11(12), 1335; https://doi.org/10.3390/life11121335 - 3 Dec 2021
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Abstract
Previously, it was proposed that protein receptors evolved from self-binding peptides that were encoded by self-interacting gene segments (inverted repeats) widely dispersed in the genome. In addition, self-association of the peptides was thought to be mediated by regions of amino acid sequence similarity. [...] Read more.
Previously, it was proposed that protein receptors evolved from self-binding peptides that were encoded by self-interacting gene segments (inverted repeats) widely dispersed in the genome. In addition, self-association of the peptides was thought to be mediated by regions of amino acid sequence similarity. To extend these ideas, special features of receptors have been explored, such as their degree of homology to other proteins, and the arrangement of their genes for clues about their evolutionary origins and dynamics in the genome. As predicted, BLASTP searches for homologous proteins detected a greater number of unique hits for queries with receptor sequences than for sequences of randomly-selected, non-receptor proteins. This suggested that the building blocks (cohesion modules) for receptors were duplicated, dispersed, and maintained in the genome, due to structure/function relationships discussed here. Furthermore, the genes coding for a representative panel of receptors participated in a larger number of gene–gene interactions than for randomly-selected genes. This could conceivably reflect a greater evolutionary conservation of the receptor genes, with their more extensive integration into networks along with inherent properties of the genes themselves. In support of the latter possibility, some receptor genes were located in active areas of adaptive gene relocation/amalgamation to form functional blocks of related genes. It is suggested that adaptive relocation might allow for their joint regulation by common promoters and enhancers, and affect local chromatin structural domains to facilitate or repress gene expression. Speculation is included about the nature of the coordinated communication between receptors and the genes that encode them. Full article
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Review

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34 pages, 1205 KiB  
Review
Heterologous (Over) Expression of Human SoLute Carrier (SLC) in Yeast: A Well-Recognized Tool for Human Transporter Function/Structure Studies
by Lorena Pochini and Michele Galluccio
Life 2022, 12(8), 1206; https://doi.org/10.3390/life12081206 - 8 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2793
Abstract
For more than 20 years, yeast has been a widely used system for the expression of human membrane transporters. Among them, more than 400 are members of the largest transporter family, the SLC superfamily. SLCs play critical roles in maintaining cellular homeostasis by [...] Read more.
For more than 20 years, yeast has been a widely used system for the expression of human membrane transporters. Among them, more than 400 are members of the largest transporter family, the SLC superfamily. SLCs play critical roles in maintaining cellular homeostasis by transporting nutrients, ions, and waste products. Based on their involvement in drug absorption and in several human diseases, they are considered emerging therapeutic targets. Despite their critical role in human health, a large part of SLCs’ is ‘orphans’ for substrate specificity or function. Moreover, very few data are available concerning their 3D structure. On the basis of the human health benefits of filling these knowledge gaps, an understanding of protein expression in systems that allow functional production of these proteins is essential. Among the 500 known yeast species, S. cerevisiae and P. pastoris represent those most employed for this purpose. This review aims to provide a comprehensive state-of-the-art on the attempts of human SLC expression performed by exploiting yeast. The collected data will hopefully be useful for guiding new attempts in SLCs expression with the aim to reveal new fundamental data that could lead to potential effects on human health. Full article
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