Scientists studying the humble fruit fly have found a family of proteins that enhances the sensitivity of a cell to a hormone that can trigger abnormal growth and cancer. Their discovery could lead to a completely new approach to tackling some cancers and the development of new drugs to stop uncontrolled growth in a wide variety of tumour cells.
The researchers at the University of Oxford, funded in part by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), discovered that this family of amino acid transporters are very powerful growth promoters. When the transporters were overexpressed in a fly, its cells became hypersensitive to insulin-like molecules in the body that have a long-term role in promoting cell growth and development and the cells grew excessively.
The amino acid transporters appear to be responsive to nutrients on the surface of the cell and do not need to bring these nutrients into the cell. The action of the transporters was so significant that a defect in one of them reduces a fly’s growth by about half.
Matt Goode | EurekAlert!
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