Developmental biologists at the University of Georgia are discovering new roles for a specific gene known as Max's Giant Associated protein, or MGA. A little studied protein, MGA appears to control a number of developmental processes, and also may be connected to cancer development.
The researchers detail their findings in a paper published recently in the journal Developmental Cell.
Scott Dougan is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scientist in the University of Georgia's Department of Cellular Biology.
"The same genes that are involved in building a person during embryonic development can mutate and cause cancer later in life," said Scott Dougan the study's principal investigator and Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scientist in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of cellular biology. "No one has done a systematic study of MGA, but now that some studies connect it to cancer, there is tremendous interest."
The most common cancer associated with MGA is chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a blood and bone marrow disease in which the body produces too many white blood cells. Preliminary tests suggest that this cancer might develop when MGA does not successfully control the activities of another protein known as MYC, which contributes to tumor growth.
Dougan and his team of researchers used their own methods to change the levels of MGA in the embryos of zebrafish to see if they could discover any other roles for MGA.
They found that MGA also helps control expression of the Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, or BMP, which, as the name implies, are responsible for bone development in the embryo. In adults, however, changes in BMP activity can result in tumor development, and MGA may be part of this detrimental transformation.
"Scientists are only beginning to understand the roles this MGA protein plays, but our tests show that MGA may control many more processes than first imagined," said Dougan, who is also a member of UGA's Developmental Biology Alliance. "MGA may be involved in a number of other cancers, but we need to do more research before we're sure."
In the coming months, Dougan and his research team plan to further examine the roles of MGA to determine when it controls MYC, when it controls BMP and how it is involved in tumor formation.
"This is basic science, and we need investigations like these to understand the fundamentals of our biology," Dougan said. "Once we have this understanding, we can begin to develop new therapies to treat diseases in new, more effective ways."
Other researchers on this project include Yuhua Sun, Wei-Chia Tseng, Xiang Fan and Rebecca Ball. A full copy of the paper in Developmental Cell is available at: http://www.cell.com/developmental-cell/abstract/S1534-5807(14)00026-4
Scott Dougan | EurekAlert!
Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein
24.01.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Choreographing the microRNA-target dance
24.01.2017 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine