According to the study’s findings, researchers identified the genetic pathway used to maintain a cell’s quiescence, a state that allows bone marrow cells to escape the lethal effects of standard cancer treatments.
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) found elevated levels of the tumor suppressor protein p53 in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) – immature cells in the bone marrow that have the capacity to differentiate into all types of mature blood cells. They showed that when chemotherapy or radiation is delivered to a cell that lacks both p53 and a gene called MEF, the cell not only becomes less quiescent, but also becomes more susceptible to being killed. These findings are published in the January 9, 2009, issue of Cell Stem Cell.
“This is the first time that anyone has established that p53 has a role in defining a cell’s state of quiescence. Furthermore, it is surprising that some cells that lose p53 can actually be killed more readily than those that have p53 intact,” said the study’s senior author, Stephen Nimer, MD, Chief of the Hematology Service and Member of the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program at MSKCC. “Our findings have important implications for developing therapeutic strategies that could eliminate quiescent cancer stem cells.”
The study builds on previous research in which Dr. Nimer and colleagues first identified the MEF gene and showed its ability to control the state of quiescence of HSCs as well as its critical role in determining the sensitivity of normal bone marrow cells to chemotherapy and radiation. They have now identified p53 as the pathway that MEF utilizes to maintain this enhanced quiescence.
It is known that when a cell experiences DNA damage as a result of cancer treatment, p53 plays a critical role in guarding the genomic integrity of the cell by either triggering it to die or by causing cells to stop growing so they can repair their DNA successfully. However, p53 has additional functions during the process of blood cell formation in the body – a process called hematopoiesis.
In the current study, investigators set out to determine whether the increased amount of p53 and enhanced expression of p53 target genes might contribute to the quiescence of cells and their ability to resist chemotherapy. They examined the function of p53 during hematopoiesis and found an important interdependency between p53 and its target gene, MEF, on HSC quiescence.
“Our findings suggest that by targeting those specific genes that control quiescence in cancer cells, we may enhance the anticancer effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, thereby promoting their effectiveness,” said Dr. Nimer.
In addition, researchers identified two new targets of the p53 protein – Necdin and Gfi-1 – tumor growth suppressor genes that also regulate quiescence.
Researchers lowered the expression of Necdin and Gfi-1 in hematopoietic stem cells lacking MEF and found a significant reduction in the quiescence of those cells. The results suggest that these p53 target genes are functionally responsible for the enhanced quiescence of HSCs in which MEF has been eliminated.
The study was supported by the Wally Yonamine Fund for Leukemia Research, and grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Marshall A. Lichtman Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) program of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The following investigators contributed to this research: Yan Liu, PhD, Shannon E. Elf, MS, Yasuhiko Miyata, MD, PhD, Goro Sashida, MD, PhD, Silvana Di Giandomenico, BS, Jennifer M. Lee, BS, Anthony Deblasio, MS, and Silvia Menendez, MS, of the Molecular Phamacology and Chemistry Program; Jack Antipin, PhD, and Boris Reva, PhD, of the Computational Biology Program; and Andrew Koff, PhD, of the Molecular Biology Program.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world’s oldest and largest institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research, and education in cancer. Our scientists and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, and treat cancer. Our specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to advance the standard of cancer care worldwide.
Esther Napolitano | Newswise Science News
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy