Silkworms are useful for more than just making strong and absorbent strings of silky thread for the textiles industry. A group of KAUST scientists has now coaxed these grub-like insects into making the human form of E-selectin, a critical adhesion molecule involved in inflammation, cancer and other disease processes.
Working with collaborators at Kyushu University in Japan, biochemist Jasmeen Merzaban and her team engineered silkworms to produce different variants of E-selectin. They then studied how the various adhesion proteins interacted with cells, discovering that there is more to E-selectin’s molecular stickiness than how its terminal binding domain interacts with target molecules.
Image: The team has engineered silkworms to produce E-selectin, a critical adhesion molecule involved in inflammation, cancer and other disease processes.
© 2020 Takahiro Kusakabe & Jae Man Lee, Kyushu University