Faculty Research in the News

Hughson Research Featured on Princeton Website

The precise distribution of materials within a cell is essential for life, but the way the movements of cellular cargo are choreographed is largely unknown. Taking an unprecedented look at special biological tethers that help transport materials within cells, a Princeton-led team of biologists has provided the first detailed glimpse at how these tethers coordinate cargo delivery, suggesting they play a far more comprehensive role in the process than previously imagined.

While previous studies have shown that so-called "multisubunit tethering complexes" -- named for the multiple protein components they contain -- are necessary for intracellular transport, the mechanism for their involvement has been largely unknown. In results published this month in the journal Cell, the Princeton team reports a model for the Dsl1 tethering complex, which is the simplest of eight such tethers that have been identified. Their results reveal how the tether may coordinate the delivery of small "packages" of material to their cellular destinations.

"Tethering complexes have been known to represent the first physical connection between the package and its destination," said Fred Hughson, a Princeton molecular biology professor and leader of the research team. "Based on our findings, our hypothesis is that their involvement may go much deeper; these tethers may be chaperoning the entire delivery process."

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