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!
127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Information Technology
18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation