Pseudo-protein may reduce cell trauma via non-specific cell recycling

Just like us, cells get stressed out. Cells become stressed when there is an external force like ultraviolet light, heat, or harsh chemicals that cause cellular conditions to be imbalanced. To cope with the external stressors, cells form these dense aggregations in the cytoplasm composed of messenger RNA (mRNA) and proteins. These dense aggregations are called stress granules. Within these stress granules, mRNAs are sorted, proteins are modified, and proteins targeting the stress response are translated. Stress granules allow cells to continue to “run” or operate under stressful conditions but stress granules are meant to be temporary bodies. If stress granules are retained within the cell, they can cause complications in the cell which could lead to common diseases like cancers and neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In order to prevent diseases, the cell has to actively get rid of stress granules when the external stressors cease. Research shows that a specific pseudo-protein called MK-STYX reduces stress granules in cells but the method of how MK-STYX reduces stress granules is still unknown. Research also shows that a non-specific degradation pathway called the autophagy pathway clears stress granules from cells. Knowing that both MK-STYX and autophagy reduce stress granules in cells, I am trying to determine if MK-STYX is reducing stress granules via the autophagy pathway. During the summer, I will culture and transfect HeLa G3BP-GFP and HEK G3BP-GFP cells with MK-STYX. I will then add either an autophagy inducer drug or an autophagy inhibitor drug to the cells and induce stress granules formation by over-expressing G3BP-1 (a nucleator protein and stress-granules forming protein). Once all of these aspects are integrated in the cells,  I will examine the cells using fluorescence microscopy and will use quantitative analysis to compare cells of differing conditions.

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