Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Metabolic protein wields phosphate group to activate cancer-promoting genes

17.08.2012
UT MD Anderson scientists show how PKM2 contributes to brain tumor formation and growth

A metabolic protein that nourishes cancer cells also activates tumor-promoting genes by loosening part of the packaging that entwines DNA to make up chromosomes, a team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reports in the Aug. 16 issue of Cell.

Working in cell lines and mouse models of glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal form of brain tumor, senior author Zhimin Lu, Ph.D., associate professor of Neuro-Oncology at MD Anderson, and colleagues show that pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) fuels tumor growth by influencing a histone protein.

DNA is packaged in and spooled around histone proteins. The researchers found that PKM2 tags histone H3 with a phosphate group (one atom of phosphorous, four of oxygen) in a specific location called T11.

'No phosphorylation of H3, no tumor'

This phosphorylation leads to activation of the tumor-promoting genes, increased tumor cell reproduction and formation of tumors, Lu said. "If there's no phosphorylation of H3, there's no tumor. It's that crucial to glioblastoma formation."

An analysis of 85 human glioblastomas indicated that higher levels of PKM2 expression in the cell nucleus and of H3 phosphorylation are correlated with shorter survival. A separate analysis showed higher levels of H3 phosphorylation associated with higher grade tumors in a comparison of 30 low-grade tumor samples and 45 high grade glioblastomas.

"Histone 3-T11 phosphorylation has great potential to serve as both a prognostic marker and a guide for the use of PKM2-inhibiting therapies once they are developed," Lu said.

PKM2 has long been known for its well-established role in aerobic glycolysis - the processing of glucose into energy that solid tumors, glioblastomas in particular, rely on heavily to survive and grow. Lu and colleagues have been teasing out the mechanisms of PKM2's other role - the transcription and activation of genes.

It all starts with EGFR

When the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on the cell's membrane is activated by a growth factor, the PKM2 protein moves into the cell nucleus, where it binds to the promoter regions of genes. Other proteins called transcription factors attach to a gene's promoter region to activate it.

Cancer cells have high levels of EGFR on the cell surface, relaying growth signals from outside the cell inside. EGFR is itself a target of some cancer drugs.

A series of experiments by the research team uncovered the following molecular steps:

After EGFR activation, PKM2 binds to histone H3 and attaches a phosphate group at T11.

This separates another protein called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) from the promoter regions of the genes CCND1 and MYC. HDACs block gene activation.

With the HDACs gone, histone H3 acquires an acetyl group, which facilitates gene activation.

"This series of events only occurs when H3 is phosphorylated by PKM2," Lu said.

Blocking phosphorylation prevents brain tumors in mice

CCND1 expresses the protein cyclin D1, a cell cycle regulator. The MYC gene is frequently mutated in cancer, leading to overexpression of the transcription factor Myc, which in turn causes unregulated expression of many other genes.

Mouse experiments of EGFR-driven glioblastoma using reconstituted H3 histones, one normal and one with a mutant version of H3-T11A to prevent phosphorylation by PKM2, confirmed the relationship. Mice injected with normal, or wild type, H3, had an average tumor volume of nearly 40 cubic millimeters, while those with disabled T11A, blocking the phosphorylation point for PKM2, had no tumors.

"Our findings establish PKM2 as a histone kinase, which directly regulates gene transcription and controls cell cycle progression and proliferation of tumor cells" Lu said. Kinases are a class of proteins that attach phosphate groups to other proteins.

Co-authors with Lu are first author Weiwei Yang, Ph.D., Yan Xia, Ph.D., Xinjian Li, Ji Liang, Ph.D, and W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D., all of MD Anderson's Department of Neuro-Oncology; David Hawke, Ph.D., of MD Anderson's Department of Molecular Pathology, Kenneth Aldape, M.D., of MD Anderson's Department of Pathology; Dongming Xing of School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University in Beijing; and Tony Hunter, Ph.D., of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

Project funding was provided by grants from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (CA109035, CA127001-03, CA082683) including MD Anderson's Cancer Center Support Grant (CA16672) and also by grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the American Cancer Society and the Sister Institution Network Fund at MD Anderson.

Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mdanderson.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>