Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cancer: No Tumor without Cooperation

15.06.2010
Tumors disappear if you inhibit the genes responsible for their formation. Previously, any suggestions as to why they behave in this way were nothing more than theories. Researchers at the University of Würzburg now present concrete evidence, confirming a long-held assumption in this matter.

Oncogenes carry the genetic blueprint for proteins that cause unregulated cell proliferation. However, these proteins usually need to interact with other partners in order to trigger the tumor growth. If this interaction is disturbed, the tumor stops growing.

Concerning the reasons for this, there has been a theory around for many years, supported by some test-tube findings. Scientists at the universities of Würzburg and Stanford now have succeeded for the first time in confirming this theory with examinations performed on a living organism. Their results are published in the current issue of the scientific journal Genes & Development.

The role of the oncogenes

Nearly all human cells have a certain group of genes, which play an important role in the formation of cancer – the so-called Myc genes. Usually these genes are not read out very frequently; they serve as a blueprint for Myc proteins, which fulfill some functions in cell growth and are required only in small amounts.

If the Myc genes do not work properly, the cells start to divide in an uncontrolled way, resulting in tumor formation. The above-mentioned team of scientists have taken a closer look at this process. "The theory that Myc proteins bind to another protein, the Miz1 protein, to regulate a group of genes important for tumor growth has already been in place since 1997," explains Martin Eilers.

Eilers is head of the Department for Physiological Chemistry II at the Biocenter of the University of Würzburg. As early as in 1988, when he conducted his postdoctoral research in San Francisco, he started to study the Myc genes and proteins. He was a member of the research team that developed the theory of the protein interaction in 1997.

Now two of the postgraduate students in his team, Judith Müller and Tobias Otto, together with their colleagues from Stanford University (California), have succeeded in confirming this theory with examinations performed on a living organism.

A genetic mutation reduces the number of cancer diseases

"Tumor cells cannot do without the continuous support from the genes responsible for their formation," says Eilers. If this support is lacking, the tumor cell collapses. "Until now the reasons for this have never been fully understood," he adds. The phenomenon can be explained by the Myc-Miz interaction.

"Tumor cells carry an intracellular program, the actual function of which is to prevent them from proliferating without control," explains Martin Eilers. In other words: A tumor cell tends to commit suicide or to refuse to work. Firstly, it can start the process of programmed cell death – a damaged cell kills itself off to protect the whole organism from greater harm. Scientists refer to this process as apoptosis. Secondly, the cell can stop its life cycle; in this case, it does no longer divide but still remains physiologically active. The technical term for this is cellular senescence.

The senescence is only prevented via the interaction with the Miz1 protein. The scientists were able to prove this by modifying the Myc gene at a specific location. As a consequence, the corresponding protein was altered in such a way that it could no longer bind effectively to Miz1. In laboratory animals carrying the mutated gene, the cancer rates were significantly reduced. The result is a bit strange: A mutated gene reduces the number of tumors. Isn't it the gene mutations that are usually responsible for a multitude of cancer diseases?

Protein interaction required

So why isn't this true in this case? "Myc needs to bind to Miz1 in order to prevent the cell from producing certain tumor-inhibiting factors," explains Martin Eilers. Myc and Miz cannot impose continuous growth on the cell unless they work together. Only their interaction can prevent the cell from implementing its normal biological aging program.

So far, the findings of the Würzburg and Stanford scientists have no direct consequences for cancer therapy. At present, the Myc-Miz complex does not represent a promising starting point – the process is too complicated for this. "We still do not know enough about its physiological function," says Eilers. Therefore, as a next step, Eilers and his team would like to clarify the role of the protein interaction in the normal development of the cell.

The interaction between Myc and Miz1 is required to antagonize TGFb-dependent autocrine signaling during lymphoma formation and maintenance. Jan van Riggelen, Judith Müller, Tobias Otto, Vincent Beuger, Alper Yetil, Peter S. Choi, Christian Kosan, Tarik Möröy, Dean W. Felsher and Martin Eilers. Genes & Development

Contact: Prof. Dr. Martin Eilers, T (0931) 31-84442, martin.eilers@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de

Gunnar Bartsch | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

Further reports about: Cancer Miz1 Myc Myc-Miz gene mutation genes human cell living organism mutated gene tumor growth

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>