Scientists at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany identified a novel strategy to target the oncologically relevant protein-cleaving enzyme Taspase1. Taspase1 levels are not only elevated in cancer cells of patients with head and neck tumors and other solid malignancies but the enzyme is also critical for the development of leukemias.
Almost ten years ago, the team found enhanced levels of Taspase1 in the cancer cells of patients with head and neck tumors. At that time, the function of the protease in tumor cells and its relevance for disease was still unknown. Recent findings support the oncological importance of Taspase1 for solid malignancies and leukemias. Taspase1 appears to override control mechanisms in healthy cells by cleaving various other proteins, thereby significantly promoting cancer development. As a result of extensive research supported by funding provided by the Head and Neck Tumor Research Foundation [Stiftung Tumorforschung], the German Cancer Aid, the Thyssen Foundation, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the researchers have now gained new insights into the enzyme’s molecular functions. "Previously, it was assumed that two Taspase1 enzymes had to come together in order to be active and cleave other cellular proteins," explains Stauber. "Our latest results not only demonstrate that one Taspase1 molecule is sufficient for this, but also that we can even block the tumor-promoting properties of the enzyme by 'gluing' two Taspase1 molecules together."
Petra Giegerich | idw
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