Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


In leukemia, discovery of Mer protein in cancer cells’ nuclei offers another place to target this known cause of cancer

Since the mid-1990s, doctors have had the protein Mer in their sights – it coats the outside of cancer cells, transmitting signals inside the cells that aid their uncontrolled growth.
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study, recently published in the journal PLoS ONE, found another home for Mer – inside cancer cells’ nuclei – and perhaps another role for this protein that can point the way to novel, targeted treatments.

“We’ve known that leukemic B and T cells have a lot of Mer on their surface, while normal lymphocytes have none, and that this protein promotes cancer cell survival,” says Justine Migdall, MD/PhD candidate working in the lab of Douglas Graham, MD, PhD, CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“But signaling from the cell surface may only be part of how Mer promotes leukemia. Our recent finding that Mer also resides in the nucleus suggests there may be additional ways that Mer is promoting cancer from within the cell,” he says.

The question remains, What is Mer doing in the nucleus?

Migdall and Graham think it’s likely that Mer in the nucleus may influence “gene expression” – helping to decide which parts of the cells’ DNA are printed or expressed into proteins. If Mer is, in fact, altering genes within cells, it may be one way in which healthy cells become cancerous – with the wrong genes expressed, a good cell may go bad. Or perhaps Mer in the nucleus may help existing cancer cells survive and thrive despite chemotherapy treatment, as is commonly the case in patients who relapse.
“This finding is especially exciting within the realm of drug development, which is currently focused on inhibiting Mer signaling,” Migdall says. “Mer in the nucleus may offer another explanation of how Mer promotes cancer and thus may prove to be another druggable target.”

A second use of this discovery may be in prognosis – Migdall and Graham hope to discover if the presence of MER in the nuclei of leukemia cells predicts a more aggressive form of the disease. The answer may help doctors deliver more accurate information as well as accurate treatments.

“If we truly have two distinct mechanisms through which Mer acts – cancer cell signaling and regulation of gene expression within the nucleus – then we would have additional ways to target this cancer-causing agent,” Graham says.

This work was supported by NIH Grant 1R01CA137078 and ACS Grant RSG-08-291-01-LIB to Douglas Graham.

Garth Sundem | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Cancer Colorado river cancer cells healthy cell

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>