Research into cell discovery and genetics carried out by the University of Kent, UK, has discovered the first information on an organelle that is significant in human cells in an ancient organism distantly related to humans.
The project, which was financially supported by the Royal Society and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, has helped cell discovery. The discovery will enable scientists to study the extensiveness of cell biology, which has implications for research into autoimmune diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The research led by Dr Anastasios Tsaousis from the School of Biosciences, in collaboration with Dr Joel Dacks from the University of Alberta (Canada), and the team of researchers, discovered a rare form of an organised structure called a golgi in the microbial amoeba Naegleria gruberi that was previously considered to lack such a device.
What is the golgi?
In most cells, including healthy human cells, the golgi appears as flattened membranes resembling a stack of pancakes. In a paper published in the Journal of Cell Science, the team explains how golgi works as part of the membrane-trafficking system.
The golgi apparatus is essential to the modification and transport of proteins to their cellular destination, as it functions like a delivery service for the cell. It is composed of a production centre for cellular material, a distribution area where material is bundled and addressed, and then delivery routes that communicate packages to their eventual locations within the cell.
By utilising cell biology techniques and applying them to Naegleria, the research suggests that the golgi structure is an unstacked, tubular membranous structure. This work provides the first direct evidence for the existence of a golgi apparatus as tubular compartments in Naegleria.
This research is important for human health as when golgi bodies malfunction it causes diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other autoimmune diseases. Studying a naturally unstacked form of this organelle would allow better understanding of the relationship between golgi dysfunction and genetic diseases.