A study published in the October issue of Nature Genetics demonstrates that loss of the tumor-suppressor protein p53, coupled with elimination of the DNA-maintenance protein ATR, severely disrupts tissue maintenance in mice. As a result, tissues deteriorate rapidly, which is generally fatal in these animals. In addition, the study provides supportive evidence for the use of inhibitors of ATR in cancer therapy.
Essentially, says senior author Eric Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the findings highlight the fact that day-to-day maintenance required to keep proliferative tissues like skin and intestines functional is about more than just regeneration, a stem cell-based process that forms the basis of tissue renewal. It's also about housekeeping, the clearing away of damaged cells.
Whereas loss of ATR causes DNA damage, the job of p53 is to monitor cells for such damage and either stimulate the early demise of such cells or prevent their replication, the housekeeping part of the equation. The findings indicate that as messy as things can become in the absence of a DNA maintenance protein like ATR, failing to remove resulting damaged cells by also deleting p53, is worse. "Because the persistence of damaged cells in the absence of p53 prevents appropriate tissue renewal, these and other studies have underscored the importance not only of maintaining competent stem cells, but also of eliminating what gets in the way of regeneration," explains Brown.
"An analogy to our findings is what happens to trees during the changing seasons," says Brown. "In springtime, leaves are new and undamaged. But as the summer wears on, the effects of various influences - insects, drought, and disease - cause them to lose the pristine qualities they once had. However, the subsequent fall of these leaves presents a unique opportunity for regeneration later on, a chance to rejuvenate from anew without pre-existing obstacles. Similarly, by suppressing the accumulation of damaged cells in tissues, p53 permits more efficient tissue renewal when ATR is deleted."
Cells without ATR that remain uncleared may be block tissue regeneration either by effectively refusing to relinquish space to undamaged cells, or by secreting signals that halt regeneration until they have been removed.
These results came as something of a surprise, says Brown. Previous studies pairing DNA-repair mutations with p53 mutations always led to a partial rescue of the DNA repair mutation "We think this happens because p53 loss helps cells with just a little DNA damage to continue to contribute to the tissue" says Brown. So at a minimum, the team expected nothing to happen.
"But we got the opposite result: Absence of p53 did not rescue the tissue degeneration caused by ATR loss, it made it much worse. This result suggested that allowing mutant cells without ATR to persist is more harmful to tissues than eliminating them in the first place." Brown speculates that could be because the ATR mutation produces much more damage than most other DNA-repair defects.
According to Brown, their findings and those of other laboratories also reinforce the potential of a new therapeutic for cancer. That's because, among their other discoveries, the team noticed that cells missing both ATR and p53 have more DNA damage than those missing either gene alone. As a large fraction of human cancers have p53 mutations, he says, "p53-deficient tumors might be especially susceptible to ATR inhibition." Indeed, clinical trials already are underway involving an ATR partner protein called Chk1. "Our study provides supportive evidence for the potential use of ATR/Chk1 inhibitors in cancer therapy," says Brown
The report was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute.
Laboratory members Yaroslava Ruzankina, PhD and MD/PhD student David Schoppy are lead authors of this study. Amma Asare, Carolyn Clark, and Robert Vonderheide, all from Penn, are co-authors.
PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, named one of the nation’s “100 Top Hospitals” for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences