One of the hopes for victory against cancer hinges on naturally-occurring proteins whose job is to make their host cell die.
Since their natural role is to stop unhealthy cell proliferation, the idea is that one or more of these proteins could be harnessed to stop the growth of tumors.
Brigham Young University scientists recently stumbled onto one potential tumor suppressor with an especially ominous name: Programmed Cell Death Protein 5 (aka PDCD5). What they found opens a new avenue for cancer researchers; in fact, the Journal of Biological Chemistry recognizes the work as their research paper of the week.
Programmed cell death and serendipity
It’s tricky to find how and where potential tumor-suppressing proteins do their work inside live cells. Although other labs actively hunted for PDCD5’s cellular workplace, the researchers who actually found it weren’t looking for it at all.
BYU chemist Barry Willardson and his team study totally different proteins called molecular chaperones, which help other proteins to fold into their proper shape.
But proteins are like teenagers in a sense: You can learn a lot by noticing who they hang out with. So the Willardson group went in search of the chaperone’s buddies.
“It’s a great type of experiment because it tells you things that you may not have considered,” Willardson said.
So when they spotted PDCD5 hooking up with their protein, they wondered if its tumor suppressor ability was linked to the chaperone.
To get a closer look at the pairing, the BYU team collaborated with scientists in Madrid who operate a cryo-electron microscope in Spain’s National Center of Biotechnology. Their images showed how the mysterious Programmed Cell Death Protein 5 could block the production of tubulin, the material that cells use as scaffolding during cell division.
What this means for cancer research
Hundreds of proteins have been targeted for their potential to suppress tumors. This study identifies how one of those proteins may keep the growth of healthy cells in check.
“We’ve provided information on how this protein functions, and it needs to remain functional to be a tumor suppressor,” Willardson said. “It really is just a first step, but it gives us a direction we want to follow.”
This work was a collaboration between Willardson’s lab, BYU biochemistry professor John Prince’s lab and the group in Madrid. Six current and former BYU students also co-authored the study.
Joe Hadfield | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine