UCSF LogoAs per the latest research of UCSF, it was apparently found that there are two key circuits that regulate a cell’s ability to adjust to changes in its environment. These findings could apparently have functions ranging from diabetes and autoimmune research to targeted drug development for complex diseases.

The restricted number of circuits that can attain adaptation supposedly signifies a basic shift in our understanding of this vital biological activity which earlier had been thought to be affected by hundreds of different circuits. This is according to Chao Tang, PhD, who was co-senior author on the paper with Wendell Lim, PhD.

As per Lim, adaptation is a basic property of several cellular sensing systems. It allows the cell to automatically reset itself after reacting to a stimulus. These adaptive circuits facilitate the eyes to regulate the changes in the light. Also it allows the white blood cells to move towards bacteria or insulin levels to adjust sugar loads. It seems that they are caught up in heat adaptation, movement, sight and smell among others. In some of the most difficult diseases to treat, they are also often the mechanisms that go wrong at a molecular level.

Lim, who is also affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, explained “Many diseases are diseases of homeostasis. Diabetes or autoimmune diseases, for example, are based on a disruption in the circuitry that prevents the body from readjusting itself.”

Until now, however millions of circuits occupied in that adaptive response were inexplicably difficult. For this research, the team applied a computational mode to scrutinize 160 million circuits that come into play when a cell adjusts to environmental stimuli and supervised them for the circuit’s sensitivity to a stimulus and the accuracy of its adaptation.

The outcome was supposedly an exhaustive circuit-function map of enzymatic regulatory networks that recognized two core structures that are general to every adaptive response, however simple or difficult. A negative feedback loop with a shock absorber node, and a feed-forward loop that regulates the proportion of response was supposedly observed. The most vigorous adaptive response seemed to rely heavily on at least one of these two minimal motifs mentioned the researchers.

Lim remarked “This is a new way of looking at biology and disease. We’ve sequenced the genome; we know the genes involved and have started to understand how they’re connected together. But it’s like opening your computer and looking at the chips and circuits inside – how do you begin to understand it?”

In the field of biology there is no periodic table as there is for chemistry. Both Lim and Tang focus to create that same systematic approach to be perceptive of how cells and biological systems supposedly work.

The objective was to break down the large amount of information that has been produced by advances over the last decade in genetic sequencing, into identifiable modules. So they could be studied, understood and finally used to create drug therapies for complex diseases such as cancer and diabetes that have multiple genes.

As per the research the team’s ability to decrease millions of cellular responses to two common circuits lays the supposed foundation for similar analysis in other biological systems. In spite of the difference of possible biochemical networks, the team mentioned that it may apparently be universal to find that only a finite set of core structures can carry out a particular function.

Tang commented “From a scientific standpoint, this is about one thing: Are there universal principles in biology, and if so, what are they.”

The researchers were of the opinion that the prospective applications from these studies could be remarkable. In medicine, knowledge of what causes a system to transfer from one behavior to another could greatly help in developing more targeted therapeutics for treatments of complex diseases like cancer.

According to the research team, the complex network of homeostatic response is what appears to make these diseases so complicated to tackle therapeutically. A drug that blocks a single receptor won’t seem to work if the entire network is out of balance. The research claims to create a therapy that could readjusts that network if the core structures behind adaptive response are identified.

It can also be used in the upcoming field of synthetic biology by being a manual for how to engineer tough biological circuits that carry out a target function.

This research was published in the August issue of the journal ‘Cell’.