University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers have described a previously unknown biological mechanism in cells that prevents them from cannibalizing themselves for fuel. The mechanism involves the fuel used by cells under normal conditions and relies on an ongoing transfer of calcium between two cell components via an ion channel. Without this transfer, cells start consuming themselves as a way of to get enough energy.
"Altered metabolism is a feature of many diseases, as well as aging,â says senior author J. Kevin Foskett, professor of Physiology. âThe definition of this essential mechanism for regulating cell energy will have implications for a wide variety of physiological processes and diseases.â The investigators describe their findings in the cover article in the most recent issue of Cell.
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