Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovery of a new mechanism of gene control that is associated with cancer

20.06.2011
Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and at IRB Barcelona reveal the mechanism of action of a protein that is essential for life and is associated with disease.

Researchers headed by Joan Massagué at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York and by María Macías at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a complex mechanism by which some proteins that are essential for life, called Smads, regulate the activity of genes associated with cancer.

The fruit of three years of intense work, the study reports on the life cycle of this protein, a process that ensures that the protein is destroyed when it has completed its function. These results have been published today in the top journal Genes & Development, which has devoted its cover to this research.

In the TGF-beta/Smad signal cascade, the hormones TGF-beta and BMP transmit information to the Smad protein in the cell nucleus in order for this molecule to stop cell division and to ensure that tissues grow in an orderly and coordinated manner. Although the TGF-beta/Smad signalling pathway has been known for over twenty years, until now it was unclear how Smads temporally controlled the activity of such important genes. “We had several pieces of the puzzle but we couldn’t put them together”, says Macías.

A number of earlier studies performed by Massagué’s lab had identified that Smads undergo phosphorylations –a kind of chemical change – in a region of the protein about which little is known. By means of biophysical and biochemical approaches, the researchers have discovered that these modifications occur in a coordinated fashion over time and are not random. “First, phosphorylations make some proteins bind to Smads in order to control the activity of target genes and later other phoshorylations cause protein bindings that lead to the destruction of Smad once this protein has completed its mission. This is the way cells prevent fatal errors”, explains Macías.

Having established the time sequence of these events, the scientists used cell and structural biology approaches –determination of the atom position in Smad proteins and other activating and destructor proteins bound to them– to confirm the results previously found. “We have been able to decipher the specificity of the binding between Smad and other proteins and to reveal the secret code that these proteins use to extract information”.

How do these proteins favour tumour cells? Massagué explains that “these signalling cascades are like the body’s pólice force. The tumour cells, in other words the delinquents, disturb these pathways and use them for their own means to grow and spread”. These pathways normally are involved in basic cell processes but when altered by mutations several diseases can appear such as cancer, congenital conditions, chronic inflammation and emphysema. These results could serve as the foundation on which to develop new clinical treatments against cancer and other diseases.

Reference article:
A Smad action-turnover switch operated by WW domain readers of a phosphoserine code. Eric Aragón, Nina Goerner, Alexia-Ileana Zaromytidou, Qiaoran Xi, Albert Escobedo, Joan Massagué, and Maria J. Macias.

Genes & Development (2011). [doi: 10.1101/gad.2060811]

Nuria Noriega | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.irbbarcelona.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>