Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rictor protein offers scientists a new molecular target for cancer therapies

29.10.2010
The discovery that a protein called Rictor plays a key role in destroying a close cousin of the AKT oncogene could provide scientists with a new molecular target for treating certain cancers, including breast cancer. Described in the September 2010 issue of the journal Molecular Cell, the study was led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

The oncogenic cousin, known as SGK1, resembles the widely known AKT oncogene in structure, according to the study's senior author Wenyi Wei, PhD, of the Department of Pathology at BIDMC and Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS).

"If we put the two proteins together, they are very similar," explains Wei. "But in one important way they are very different. AKT is stable, it lives for a long time. But SGK1 has a very short lifespan, and proteins with short lifespans tend to be powerful. Everybody's eye [has been] on AKT, but you have to wonder if this little cousin of AKT can do all the things AKT does." Wei and his team, therefore, set out to better understand how cells control SGK1.

Previous research showed that the protein Rictor forms a multi-protein complex called mTORC2 that activates both AKT and SGK1. Wei's team cultured cells lacking Rictor to observe the effect on SGK1. Surprisingly, they found that SGK1 levels increased.

"We said, that cannot be," notes Wei. "How could we get rid of the protein kinase that activates SGK1 and still have the SGK1 levels be heightened?"

They found their answer when they observed that the cells weren't producing more SGK1; rather, SGK1 was living longer. This suggested to the scientists that Rictor might be playing a role in the destruction of SGK1. And, in subsequent experiments, Wei found that SGK1 is indeed held in check by a protein complex made up of Rictor, Cullin-1, Rbx1, and possibly other components. The protein complex forms a cellular garbage collector called an E3 ligase that degrades SGK1 so it cannot build up.

"The protein Rictor is modular and multifunctional," said Wei. "Its function depends on its partners." This observation suggests that some proteins may act like a central machine that can work with a variety of attachments, the same way a construction vehicle can change its function depending on whether it's wielding a bulldozer or a crane. "With further study," he adds, "we may find more proteins [like Rictor] that have multiple functions. When a cell makes a protein this big, isn't it a waste of energy to have only one function?"

Wei's team further observed that once SGK1 begins to accumulate, it turns right around and interrupts the Rictor-Cullin1 complex, stifling it's garbage collection activities. "It looks like a positive feedback loop that serves to increase SGK1," says Wei.

"The novelty and significance of this work lies in the discovery of a role for Rictor in destroying SGK1, a key regulator of cell growth and cell death that is frequently associated with human cancers," said Marion Zatz, PhD, who manages cell cycle grants at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "The finding suggests that faulty regulation of Rictor may play a part in some forms of cancer, and could offer us a new target for treating the disease."

While the exact role of SGK1 in tumor growth isn't yet clear, Wei speculates that SGK1 may play a role in cancer by hijacking a cell's metabolism, just as its close cousin AKT does. "This mechanism we discovered may be part of what drives overexpression of SGK1," he adds.

This study was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institutes of Health and by a DOD Prostate New Investigator Award to Wenyi Wei. Wei is a Kimmel Scholar, V Scholar and Karin Grunebaum Cancer Research Foundation Fellow.

Study coauthors include BIDMC investigators Daming Gao (first author), Lixin Wan, Hiroyuki Inuzuka, Anders Berg, Alan Tseng, Shavali Shaik, Jessica Gasser and Alex Toker; Bo Zhai, Steven Gygi, Eric Bennett, and J. Wade Harper of Harvard Medical School; and Adriana Tron and James DeCaprio of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks in the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is a clinical partner of the Joslin Diabetes Center and a research partner of the Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.

Bonnie Prescott | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bidmc.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>