Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New mechanism for cancer progression discovered by UNC and Harvard researchers

27.11.2012
The protein Ras plays an important role in cellular growth control. Researchers have focused on the protein because mutations in its gene are found in more than 30 percent of all cancers, making it the most prevalent human oncogene.
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Harvard researchers have discovered an alternative mechanism for activating Ras that does not require mutation or hormonal stimulus. In healthy cells, Ras transmits hormone signals into the cell that prompt responses such as cell growth and the development of organs and tissues. A mutation on the RAS gene can chronically activate those signals, leading to tumor initiation and progression.

In an article published on-line in a November issue of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the UNC and Harvard teams discovered that modification of Ras at a specific site with a small protein known as ubiquitin can also lock Ras into an active signaling state. Thus, modification of Ras with a single ubiquitin – a process known as monoubiquitination - switches Ras to an active signaling state by disrupting the action of another protein known as the GTPase activating protein, or GAP. Work by two of the papers co-authors, Atsuo Sasaki and Lewis Cantley of Harvard, had previously found evidence for Ras’s potential to become activated and promote Ras-mediated tumorigenesis by monoubiquitination.

Because of the strong link between Ras and cancer, Ras should be an attractive target for drug discovery efforts. Despite considerable efforts at developing treatments targeting the protein, Ras itself is now considered to be ‘undruggable’, leading researchers to try new approaches to developing drugs that target activated Ras. This could lead to benefits beyond cancer therapies, as the RAS gene has also been linked to developmental disorders such as Noonan syndrome, Costello syndrome and autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome.

Lead researcher Rachael Baker, a PhD candidate doing joint work in the labs of Henrik Dohlman, PhD, professor of pharmacology and vice chair of biochemistry and biophysics and Sharon Campbell, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC, developed a novel method to modify Ras with ubiquitin and then subsequently characterized how ubiquitin modification can lead to Ras activation.

The attachment of ubiquitin to Ras at a specific site leads to Ras activation, much like with an oncogenic mutation, leading to an increased potential for cancer formation. Baker notes that the reaction can be reversed by enzymes in the cell that remove ubiquitin, making these enzymes possible targets for future pharmaceutical research.

“Establishing how Ras is activated by ubiquitin is just the first step in understanding this novel mechanism of cellular regulation.” said Campbell.

The researchers next step will be to obtain a more detailed understanding of its role in cancer progression, first in cells and in animals and eventually in cancer patients.

Research was done in conjunction with Brian Kuhlman and Steven Lewis in the UNC Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. The work was supported by NIH grants R01CA089614 (S.L.C.), R01GM073180–06S1 (H.G.D.), R01GM073960 and R01GM073151, and R01GM41890 and P01CA117969 (L.C.C.), the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics and NIH grant T32GM008570, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellowship for Research Abroad, Kanae Foundation for Research Abroad and a Genentech Fellowship.

William Davis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>