The protein tissue transglutaminase, known by the abbreviation TG2, previously has been found by researchers at M. D. Anderson and elsewhere to be overexpressed in a variety of drug-resistant cancer cells and in cancer that has spread from its original organ (metastasized).
"In general, you rarely see overexpression of TG2 in a normal cell," says Kapil Mehta, Ph.D., professor in the M. D. Anderson Department of Experimental Therapeutics, who began 10 years ago studying TG2 as an inflammatory protein.
Mehta and colleagues in the past year have connected TG2 overexpression to drug-resistant and metastatic breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
Expression of TG2 is tightly regulated in a healthy cell, Mehta says, and is temporarily increased in response to certain hormones or stress factors. "However, constitutive expression of this protein in a cancer cell helps confer protection from stress-induced cell death," Mehta says. "We are developing TG2 as a pharmaceutical target and are now working with a mouse model to that end."
The mechanisms by which TG2 might promote drug-resistance and metastasis have remained elusive, the researchers note. In this paper, the M. D. Anderson team shows in lab experiments that inhibiting the protein in pancreatic cancer cells leads to a form of programmed cell suicide called autophagy, or self-digestion.
TG2 was inhibited in two separate ways. First, the researchers blocked another protein known to activate TG2. Secondly, they also directly targeted TG2 with a tiny molecule known as small interfering RNA tailored to shut down expression of the protein.
In both cases, the result was a drastic reduction of TG2 expression (up to 94 percent) and telltale signs of autophagy in the cancer cells, which became riddled with cavities called vacuoles.
When autophagy occurs, a double membrane forms around a cell organ, or organelle. This autophagosome then merges with a digestive organelle called a lysosome and everything inside is consumed, leaving the vacuole and a residue of digested material. If enough of this happens, the cell dies.
Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, M.D., professor of experimental therapeutics and study co-author, notes that the research also shows that the self-consuming cell death prevented by TG2 is independent of a prominent molecular pathway also known to regulate autophagy called the mammalian target of rapamycin.
"Targeting TG2, or its activating protein PKC, or both, presents a novel and potentially effective approach to treating patients with pancreatic cancer," Lopez-Berestein said. Research in the mouse model remains in the early stages, the researchers caution.
The researchers also show that the TG2 pathway also is separate from another, better known, form of programmed cell death called apoptosis.
Apoptosis, like autophagy, is a normal biological defense mechanism that systematically destroys defective cells by forcing them to kill themselves. In apoptosis, the cells die via damage to their nucleus and DNA, with other cellular organelles preserved. Autophagy kills by degrading those other organelles while sparing the nucleus.
Mehta's lab reported in a Cancer Research paper last September that TG2 overexpression also activates a protein called nuclear factor-kB known to play a role in regulating cell growth, metastasis and apoptosis. This pathway, Mehta explained, could make TG2 an attractive target for other forms of cancer as well.
Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
Research reveals how order first appears in liquid crystals
23.05.2018 | Brown University
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences