One of the hopes for victory against cancer hinges on naturally-occurring proteins whose job is to make their host cell die.
Since their natural role is to stop unhealthy cell proliferation, the idea is that one or more of these proteins could be harnessed to stop the growth of tumors.
Brigham Young University scientists recently stumbled onto one potential tumor suppressor with an especially ominous name: Programmed Cell Death Protein 5 (aka PDCD5). What they found opens a new avenue for cancer researchers; in fact, the Journal of Biological Chemistry recognizes the work as their research paper of the week.
Programmed cell death and serendipity
It’s tricky to find how and where potential tumor-suppressing proteins do their work inside live cells. Although other labs actively hunted for PDCD5’s cellular workplace, the researchers who actually found it weren’t looking for it at all.
BYU chemist Barry Willardson and his team study totally different proteins called molecular chaperones, which help other proteins to fold into their proper shape.
But proteins are like teenagers in a sense: You can learn a lot by noticing who they hang out with. So the Willardson group went in search of the chaperone’s buddies.
“It’s a great type of experiment because it tells you things that you may not have considered,” Willardson said.
So when they spotted PDCD5 hooking up with their protein, they wondered if its tumor suppressor ability was linked to the chaperone.
To get a closer look at the pairing, the BYU team collaborated with scientists in Madrid who operate a cryo-electron microscope in Spain’s National Center of Biotechnology. Their images showed how the mysterious Programmed Cell Death Protein 5 could block the production of tubulin, the material that cells use as scaffolding during cell division.
What this means for cancer research
Hundreds of proteins have been targeted for their potential to suppress tumors. This study identifies how one of those proteins may keep the growth of healthy cells in check.
“We’ve provided information on how this protein functions, and it needs to remain functional to be a tumor suppressor,” Willardson said. “It really is just a first step, but it gives us a direction we want to follow.”
This work was a collaboration between Willardson’s lab, BYU biochemistry professor John Prince’s lab and the group in Madrid. Six current and former BYU students also co-authored the study.
Joe Hadfield | EurekAlert!
Tracing the evolution of vision
23.08.2019 | University of Göttingen
Caffeine does not influence stingless bees
23.08.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.
The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...
Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.
Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.
Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.
Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...
Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics
The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Life Sciences