Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pathway controlling cell growth revealed

18.02.2013
A Melbourne-based research team has discovered a genetic defect that can halt cell growth and force cells into a death-evading survival state.
The finding has revealed an important mechanism controlling the growth of rapidly-dividing cells that may ultimately lead to the development of new treatments for diseases including cancer.

The discovery was made by Associate Professor Joan Heath, Dr Yeliz Boglev and colleagues at the Melbourne-Parkville Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Dr Kate Hannan, Associate Professor Rick Pearson and Associate Professor Ross Hannon at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, also contributed to the work, which was published in the journal PLOS Genetics this month.

Associate Professor Heath, a Ludwig Institute Member who recently transferred her research group to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said the discovery was made while studying zebrafish embryos that harbour genetic mutations which prevent rapid cell growth during organ development. “Zebrafish embryos provide us with a great laboratory model for these studies because they are transparent, an attribute that allows us to track the growth of rapidly developing organs in live animals under a simple microscope. Moreover, the genes controlling growth and proliferation of developing tissues are essentially identical in zebrafish and humans, and are known to be frequently commandeered by cancer cells.”

“We discovered that a mutation in a relatively under-studied gene called pwp2h leads to the faulty assembly of ribosomes, the ‘protein factories’ of cells, and stops cells from dividing,” she said. “What was intriguing was that cells under stress from ribosome failure did not die. Instead, the cells switched on a survival mechanism called autophagy and began obtaining nutrients by digesting their own intracellular components.”

Ribosomes are large molecular machines in cells that manufacture proteins, and are critical for cell growth and division. Currently, there is great interest in developing therapeutics to block ribosome production, as a strategy to prevent cancer cells from dividing.

“Our research could have implications for this type of cancer treatment,” Associate Professor Heath said. “We showed that when ribosome assembly is disrupted, cells stop growing as desired, but to our surprise they enter a survival state. An anti-cancer treatment that inadvertently promotes the survival of cancer cells through autophagy is clearly not desirable. However, our findings in zebrafish show that if ribosome assembly is blocked and, at the same time, autophagy is inhibited, cells die rapidly. It is possible that a combination of inhibitors that block ribosome function and autophagy could provide an effective anti-cancer treatment,” she said.

Associate Professor Heath’s group is continuing its research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, examining other genetic mutations in zebrafish that disrupt cell growth and division. “We are keen to enhance our approach by applying existing research technologies at the institute,” she said. “We have identified a number of cellular processes that rapidly dividing cells – including cancer cells – depend on, and the next stage is to test whether they could provide new targets for anti-cancer therapy.”

The research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Victorian Government.
For further information

Vanessa Solomon
Communications Adviser
Ph: +61 3 9345 2971
Mob: +61 431 766 715
Email: solomon@wehi.edu.au

Vanessa Solomon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wehi.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>