Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research Reveals How Cancer-Driving Enzyme Works

09.05.2011
Cancer researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center are helping unlock the cellular-level function of the telomerase enzyme, which is linked to the disease’s growth.

Their latest findings, published today in Molecular Cell, demonstrate that telomerase repairs chromosomes in one of two ways – depending on whether a cell is dividing normally or if the cell is under stress from enzyme inhibition – and could lead to new or improved cancer-fighting therapies that promote inhibition of this enzyme.

“It’s a significant advance in our understanding of how telomerase works,” said Dr. Woodring Wright, professor of cell biology and senior author of the study. “Our goal is to identify new targets for inhibiting telomerase.”

The number of times a cell divides is determined by telomeres, protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that indicate cell age. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten. When telomeres shrink to a certain length, the cell either dies or stops dividing. In cancer cells, the enzyme telomerase keeps rebuilding the telomeres, so the cell never receives the cue to stop dividing.

Although telomerase was discovered in 1985, exactly how this enzyme repairs telomeres to enable cancer cells to divide and grow was largely unknown. Until now, researchers didn’t know how many telomerase molecules went into action at the telomeres and under what conditions.

“It’s a single molecule under normal cancer growth conditions, but if you shorten telomeres artificially by inhibiting telomerase, now it’s more than one molecule acting on the ends of the telomeres,” Dr. Wright said of the study’s findings.

When acting as a single molecule at the telomeres, telomerase adds about 60 nucleotide molecules “in one fell swoop to the end of the chromosome,” Dr. Wright said.

Researchers also discovered that structures in cells called Cajal bodies help process telomerase during chromosome-repair activity. Cajal bodies assemble ribonucleic acid (RNA) within proteins.

“Telomerase uses this RNA in order to add the sequences onto the end, and this complex is assembled or modified in some way in these Cajal bodies,” Dr. Wright said.

UT Southwestern scientists next will work to pinpoint the precise molecules that bring telomerase to telomeres for potential development of inhibitors that would be new cancer drugs.

“We now need to find the molecules that are doing that as targets for additional inhibitors,” Dr. Wright said. “We have identified the step, but we haven’t yet identified the molecules involved.”

One drug that blocks telomerase, Imetelstat or GRN163L, was developed by the biotechnology company Geron with help from Drs. Wright and Jerry Shay, professor of cell biology. That drug, tested at UT Southwestern, is currently in clinical trials for treatment of several types of cancer.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in this study were lead author and assistant instructor Dr. Yong Zhao; Dr. Jinyong Kim and Dr. Guido Stadler, both postdoctoral fellows in cell biology; Ugur Eskiocak, a student research assistant in cell biology; and Dr. Shay. Biochemistry and molecular biology and genetics researchers at the University of Georgia also participated.

The work was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, National Cancer Institute, American Federation for Aging Research and the National Institutes of Health.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/cancer to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html
To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email,
subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

Debbie Bolles | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

nachricht CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve 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: 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)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

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

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>