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Fatty hints to faulty chloride channels.

Fatty hints to faulty chloride channels

Several diseases, including cystic fibrosis and certain diarrheas, owe their devastating symptoms to faulty chloride channels. These cell-membrane structures help regulate the flow of chloride ions and water into and out of the epithelial tissues lining organs such as the trachea and gut. In the August PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (Vol. 87, No. 15), researchers report the first data showing that some unsaturated fatty acids can shut down chloride channels. These fatty acids, they say, may serve as potent natural gatekeepers and point the way to more effective drug therapies for diseases that involve malfunctioning chloride channels

Previous studies had shown that breakdown products of unsaturated fatty acids could closed chloride channels. No one expected, however, that the "parent" fatty acids could also regulate channels "in the opposite direction, in closing them," says Sandra E. Guggino of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Her team found that only the structurally kinked, "cis-type" unsaturated fatty acids shut channel openings, whereas their straighter, "trans-type" counterparts exerted no control over channel closing. Long-chain saturated fatty acids also showed no effect.

Guggino says this suggests that chloride-channel blockage in diseases such as cystic fibrosis might result from a genetic mismanagement of the cis-type fatty acids near the channels.
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Title Annotation:fatty acids may cause disease by shutting down chloride channels
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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