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 Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | 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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>