In a recent study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, Dr. Elias Adriaenssens, Prof. Vincent Timmerman and colleagues have discovered a new function for a group of proteins called small heat shock proteins (HSPBs) in the human body. These proteins, which are found in the liquid (cytosolic) portion of cells, were found to play a critical role in the maintenance of the powerhouses of cells, the mitochondria.

New research from Prof. Vincent Timmerman’s lab, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Oxford, has elucidated the structural changes caused by a mutation in the molecular chaperone Hsp27 (HSPB1). Chaperones are a group of proteins that have functional similarity and assist in protein folding. This work not only sheds light on an important disease-causing mutation, it also reveals an important mechanism by which this chaperone functions.