Scientists reveal cells ‘energy factories’ linked to cancer
University of Glasgow scientists have discovered how mitochondria - the energy factories in our cells - can sustain a cancer, reporting their findings in a new study published in Cancer Cell.
Mitochondria are complex structures that exist in cells to generate energy for growth and activity. The Cancer Research UK researchers based at the University of Glasgows Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow have found out how the excessive build-up of a simple metabolic molecule in mitochondria can trigger a sequence of events that leads to tumour growth.
The discovery increases our understanding of the molecular basis of several types of cancer, which is crucial for the development of new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. Scientists know that a number of genes that code for the mitochondria’s energy generating machinery are tumour suppressors and that defects in these genes can lead to cancer. But, until now, it was unclear as to how mutations in these genes resulted in the disease.
The team looked at one of the known tumour suppressor genes called SDH, which codes for a molecule called succinate dehydrogenase. When the SDH gene is damaged, a metabolic product called succinic acid accumulates in cells. This then causes the levels of a protein called HIF-1to rise. The HIF-1 protein is normally only activated in response to certain types of crisis in the cell, such as a lack of oxygen. Under these conditions it encourages the growth of blood vessels to help cells get more oxygen.
The researchers have found the missing pieces in this puzzle. They show how the high levels of succinic acid in the cell that result from SDH mutations block the cell’s usual method of ridding the cell of HIF-1. HIF-1 levels can then build up, resulting in inappropriate growth of blood vessels, which can feed a tumour.
Dr Eyal Gottlieb, a Cancer Research UK scientist based at the University of Glasgows Beatson Institute in Glasgow, says: “We found that damage to the SDH gene boosts the levels of succinic acid in a cell and this, in turn, prevents the degradation of HIF-1. HIF-1 is then free to increase the expression of genes that facilitate blood vessel growth, tumour development and cancer spread.
Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says: “Mutations in SDH can predispose a person to cancer of the kidney, adrenal gland and thyroid gland. Changes in SDH activity may also be associated with stomach and bowel cancer.
“This study is exciting because it is the first to find a molecular mechanism that links mitochondrial mutations to tumour formation. Increasing our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer is crucial if we are to find new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating the disease in the future.”
Jenny Murray | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...