Many people would agree that variety is the spice of life. Scientists believe that variability in cell behavior can be beneficial, since it allows organisms to adapt quickly to changing conditions. On the other hand, controlling such variability is potentially important to human health, because it is thought to slow some tumor cells to escape destruction by chemotherapy, and of some bacterial cells to avoid the effects of antibiotics. In the mid-1990s the Dohlman lab first showed that RGS proteins suppress the response to hormones and neurotransmitters. Their recent publication reveals an unexpected function for RGS proteins as "noise suppressors". When they disrupted RGS function, using gene mutations, they found that cells could still respond to chemical signals, but with much greater variability from cell to cell. Cells that can normally follow a gradient stimulus were no longer able to do so accurately, and instead wander in random directions. Dohlman believes that their discovery will guide efforts to developing new drugs in the future.
Dr. Henrik Dohlman is Vice Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and also Professor of Pharmacology. Research in his lab is centered on G proteins and G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Dr. Dohlman is a fellow of the America Association for the Advancement of Science for contributions in innovative experimental approaches and discovery of RGS proteins which transformed the fields of molecular pharmacology as well as yeast microbiology.
First author on this article is Gauri Dixit. Dr. Dixit was graduate trainee in the Dohlman Lab who defended her thesis on March 5, 2014. Gauri has relocated to Boston where she will continue her research training.
Read the full article: Molecular Cell article
Learn more about the: Dohlman Lab