Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scripps Research Scientists Help Pinpoint Cause of Stress-Related DNA Damage

Findings Suggest New Model for Developing Novel Therapeutic Approaches

Working closely with a team of researchers from Duke University, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have helped identify a molecular pathway that plays a key role in stress-related damage to the genome, the entirety of an organism's hereditary information.

The new findings, published in the journal Nature on August 21, 2011, could not only explain the development of certain human disorders, they could also offer a potential model for prevention and therapy.

While the human mind and body are built to respond to stress—the well-known "fight or flight" response, which lasts only a few minutes and raises heart rate and blood glucose levels—the response itself can cause significant damage if maintained over long periods of time.

When stress becomes chronic, this natural response can lead to a number of disease-related symptoms including peptic ulcers and cardiovascular disorders. To make matters worse, evidence indicates that chronic stress eventually leads to DNA damage, which in turn can result in various neuropsychiatric conditions, miscarriages, cancer, and even aging itself.

Until the new study, however, exactly how chronic stress wreaks havoc on DNA was basically unknown.

"Precisely how chronic stress leads to DNA damage is not fully understood," said Derek Duckett, associate scientific director of the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida. "Our research now outlines a novel mechanism highlighting â-arrestin-1 as an important player."

The long-term effects of these stress hormones on DNA damage identified in the study represent a conceptual as well as a tangible advance, according to Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Duke University professor of medicine who led the study.

Since stress is not time-limited and can be sustained over months or even years, it is well appreciated that persistent stress may have adverse effects for the individual. These new findings not only uncover a novel pathway, but also have important practical implications.

"Our results provide a possible mechanistic basis for several recent reports suggesting that significant risk reductions for diseases such as prostate cancer, lung adenocarcinoma, and Alzheimer's disease may be associated with blockade of this particular stress-response pathway by beta blockers," Leftkowitz said. "Although there are most likely numerous pathways involved in the onset of stress-related diseases, our results raise the possibility that such therapies might reduce some of the deleterious DNA-damaging consequences of long-term stress in humans."

A Newly Discovered Mechanism

The newly uncovered mechanism involves â-arrestin-1proteins, â2-adrenoreceptors (â2ARs), and the catecholamines, the classic fight-or-flight hormones released during times of stress—adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Arrestin proteins are involved in modifying the cell's response to neurotransmitters, hormones, and sensory signals; adrenoceptors respond to the catecholamines noradrenaline and adrenaline.

Under stress, the hormone adrenaline stimulates â2ARs expressed throughout the body, including sex cells and embryos. Through a series of complex chemical reactions, the activated receptors recruit â-arrestin-1, creating a signaling pathway that leads to catecholamine-induced degradation of the tumor suppressor protein p53, sometimes described as "the guardian of the genome."

The new findings also suggest that this degradation of p53 leads to chromosome rearrangement and a build-up of DNA damage both in normal and sex cells. These types of abnormalities are the primary cause of miscarriages, congenital defects, and mental retardation, the study noted.

The first author of the study, "Stress Response Pathway Regulates DNA Damage through â2-Adrenoreceptors and â-Arrestin-1," is Makoto R. Hara of Duke University. In addition to Duckett and Hara, other authors include Jeffrey J. Kovacs, Erin J. Whalen, Sudarshan Rajagopal, Ryan T. Strachan, Aaron J. Towers, Barbara Williams, Christopher M. Lam, Kunhong Xiao, Sudha K. Shenoy, Simon G. Gregory, Seungkirl Ahn, and Robert J. Lefkowitz of Duke University; and Wayne Grant of Scripps Research.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and vaccine development, as well as for its insights into autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious disease. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on drug discovery and technology development in addition to basic biomedical science. Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students on its two campuses. The institute's graduate program, which awards Ph.D. degrees in biology and chemistry, is ranked among the top ten such programs in the nation. For more information, see

For information:
Eric Sauter
Tel: 215-862-2689

Eric Sauter | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>