The proteins actin and myosin have a firm place in the muscles where they are responsible for contraction. While recent investigations have shown that they are also found in the nucleus, it has been unclear to date just what they are doing there. Now an international team of investigators headed by Professor Dr. Ingrid Grummt, head of the Division of Molecular Biology of the Cell II of the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ), has shown that the muscle proteins in the nucleus are actively involved in transcription, i.e. the reading of genetic information.
“This is a breakthrough in molecular biology that revolutionizes our thinking about the transcription process,” said Ingrid Grummt. Jointly with investigators from Chicago, Prague, and Heidelberg, the scientist recently published an article in Nature Cell Biology* which has shattered a biological dogma that restricted the physiological role of the proteins actin and myosin to muscle contraction and their function as intracellular supporting elements.
The results are of fundamental relevance for cancer research, since the reading of genetic information and its translation into the cellular protein machine are essential for cell growth. In cancer cells, transcription activity is abnormally high, the cells are dividing uninhibited. “Once we learn to understand how this process is regulated in a normal cell, we will be able to investigate specifically what is going wrong in tumor cells and on this basis identify targets for therapeutic approaches,” Grummt explained.
Julia Rautenstrauch | alfa
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