Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Natural anti-viral enzyme helps keep cancer cells alive, researchers find

06.10.2006
A molecule that cells normally use to fight viruses is also involved in keeping cancer cells alive, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

The anti-viral molecule, called TBK-1, was found to be essential for cancer cells to live, so blocking it might point to a treatment for fighting cancer, the researchers report in today's issue of Cell.

"We got the surprise that this mechanism is involved in cancer cell survival, even though it's normally involved in immune response," said Dr. Michael White, associate professor of cell biology. "We found something a little bit different — an Achilles' heel of cancer cells that's apparently broadly conserved among many types of solid tumors."

Using cultured human cells, the researchers set out to study enzymes known to be involved in keeping cancer cells alive and proliferating. They soon narrowed the focus to one called RalB. This molecule is part of the Ras family of enzymes, which are mutated in 30 percent of all cancers and in 90 percent of pancreatic cancers.

The UT Southwestern scientists knew that RalB interacts with a protein complex called the exocyst, which helps small secretory packets in cells fuse to the cell membrane. The team isolated this complex, then chemically analyzed the proteins attached to it.

One protein they found on the exocyst, TBK-1, is known to be involved in cells' anti-viral response.

"There was nothing known about that mechanism to suggest how TBK-1 could drive cancer cell survival," Dr. White said.

The researchers found that TBK-1 is turned off in healthy cells unless the immune response is stimulated but was always active in the cancerous cells they studied. When they blocked the function of TBK-1 in both the cancerous and healthy cells, cancer cells died while healthy cells survived.

A German research team has studied clinical samples of tumors and found elevated levels of TBK-1, Dr. White said.

The TBK-1 action is part of an immune reaction called the "host defense response," which is distinct from the "adaptive" immune process, in which the body creates new antibodies against invading pathogens. A great deal is currently understood about how the adaptive immune system fights cancer and also helps create tissue environments permissive to cancer, Dr. White said, but a cancer-promoting role for the host defense response has not been previously seen.

It's a straightforward matter to block the action of TBK-1, so this might be a promising avenue for new cancer treatments, Dr. White said. Because that would also interfere with the body's immune function, however, a balance would have to be found between killing cancer cells and compromising a patient's ability to fight disease.

UT Southwestern researchers are now looking for chemicals that block TBK-1. They are also screening cancer cells for similar biochemical pathways essential to their survival but not essential in normal cells.

"This is making us think that there are many other surprises awaiting discovery regarding biological systems that are inappropriately subverted during development of cancer," Dr. White said.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Yu-chen Chien, postdoctoral researcher in cell biology; Dr. Sungchan Kim, senior research associate in biochemistry; Ron Bumeister, research scientist in physiology; Dr. Yueh-Ming Loo, postdoctoral researcher in microbiology; Dr. Sung Won Kwon, a former postdoctoral researcher in biochemistry now at Seoul National University; Cynthia Johnson, a microbiology student in the Medical Scientist Training Program; Dr. Michael Gale, associate professor of microbiology; and Dr. Yingming Zhao, associate professor of biochemistry. Researchers from the Institut Curie in France and the University of Iowa also participated.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert E. Welch Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.

Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

Further reports about: Associate Cancer TBK-1 anti-viral cancer cells involved

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

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...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

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...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

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...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

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)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>