22 September 2008

A UQ structural biologist is investigating how material coming into and out of the cell is sorted, information which will improve our understanding of diseases such as cancer.

Dr Brett Collins from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience is looking to establish the molecular details of important endosomal sorting pathways.

“Endosomes are organelles within the cell that play a pivotal role in the regulated cellular exit and uptake of proteins,” Dr Collins said.

He said these cargo molecules include receptors for cellular nutrients, signalling complexes and molecules involved in cell–cell adhesion.

“Defects in endosomal protein sorting are linked to many diseases including cancer and high cholesterol, and the system is also subverted by viral and bacterial pathogens such as HIV and salmonella,” Dr Collins said.

“As well as providing a basic understanding of fundamental cellular processes, the molecular details generated from this work will lay the foundation for future efforts to design drugs that target specific intracellular transport pathways.”

Dr Collins joined the IMB from Cambridge in 2006. Since arriving, he has received four grants, a fellowship and has published in top-tier journals such as Nature and Traffic. This year he was made a full IMB Group Leader, and now heads his own research laboratory, which focuses on studying the endosome.

Media: Bronwyn Adams, Marketing and Communications Officer, Institute for Molecular Bioscience (07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247 or b.adams@imb.uq.edu.au).

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