The cellular oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are analogous to the accelerator and brake pedals in a car. If an oncogene is permanently active, similar to a stuck accelerator in a car, cells divide without restraints and a tumor develops.
The c-MYC proto-oncogene is activated aberrantly in about 50% of all tumors. As a result the c-MYC protein is produced in excessive amounts, which in turn activates processes associated with cell proliferation. A group of research scientists led by Prof. Heiko Hermeking (Institute of Pathology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany) has now identified a mechanism that allows c-MYC to drive cellular proliferation in the presence of substances that would lead to a block in cell division in normal cells, as for example chemotherapeutic agents.
“In future this knowledge may allow a more specific inhibition of tumor growth” Hermeking hopes. This study has been published in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS).
Attractive target structure for cancer drugs
The c-MYC gene is a nodal point in the regulation of cellular division and is highly expressed in colorectal cancer and many other tumor types. The c-MYC protein is a transcription factor which regulates other genes, which in turn mediate the effects of c-MYC on cell proliferation. “In order to understand the origin of cancer it is therefore important to identify genes and mechanisms that mediate the effects of c-MYC on cells” Prof. Hermeking explained. Because of its central position in the regulation of cell proliferation c-MYC is an attractive target structure for cancer therapeutic agents.
Signaling chain unraveled in detail
Prof. Hermeking’s research team determined how c-MYC promotes proliferation. They were able to demonstrate that c-MYC activates the AP4 gene, which results in the synthesis of AP4 protein. AP4 protein in turn suppresses the formation of a central inhibitor of cellular division (p21) by occupying its regulatory region within the genome. Thereby tumor cells become refractory to substances, e.g. chemotherapeutic agents, which block cell division in normal cells.
Instead of terminating proliferation the tumor cells undergo cell death. Moreover, the scientists discovered that colorectal carcinomas, in contrast to normal colon tissue, generally produce large amounts of the AP4 protein. In the future, the knowledge about this signaling cascade could enable a more targeted prevention of cancer cell proliferation. The project is supported by the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe e.V.).
Prof. Dr. Heiko Hermeking | alfa
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy