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 Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>