Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene that, when altered makes cells and animals age prematurely and die. The findings, reported in the May 1 edition of Genes and Development, may provide a new target for therapies that force cancer cells to an early death.
The gene, called PASG (Proliferation Associated SNF2-like Gene), normally works by decreasing the activity of other genes in two different ways: helping to add chemical groups to DNA, in a process known as methylation, or by modifying protein structures called histones that help wind DNA into compact coils.
"In order to grow and stay alive, cells depend on the PASG gene to reduce the activity of other genes, but its a very complicated process - much like modifying the engine of an F-15 fighter jet while its flying," says Robert Arceci, M.D., Ph.D., King Fahd Professor and Director of Pediatric Oncology, and director of the study.
Vanessa Wasta | EurekAlert!
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