Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Evolution boosted anti-cancer prowess of a primordial gene

04.03.2003


Arf gene became more effective in stemming cell growth when it joined forces with p53



Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have looked back in evolutionary time and identified what may be a gene that was once only moderately effective in slowing down cellular reproduction, until it linked up with a more efficient set of genes to create a powerful anti-cancer response.

The gene, called Arf, was already known to have cancer-suppressing activity. Arf responds to cancer-causing environments by activating the well-known tumor suppressor gene, p53. In turn, p53 activates a battery of other genes to stop cell growth or, in extreme cases, to trigger cell death in response to a variety of harmful conditions, such as DNA damage or activation of oncogenes (cancer-causing genes). In fact, loss of Arf or p53 is a common event in many human cancers.


But the new results suggest that Arf plays a role far older in evolutionary terms than its more familiar job of stimulating p53 to prevent cancer. The St. Jude findings suggest that Arf originally evolved to slow the cell’s metabolism and growth by limiting production of ribosomes. Ribosomes, made up of RNA (de-coded DNA) and proteins, guide the production of all other cellular proteins according to the genetic code. The new work shows that Arf interferes with production of the RNA components of ribosomes in order to exert some control of protein production and cell growth.

"About 80 percent of a cell’s RNA is tied up in ribosomes," said Charles Sherr, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the Genetics & Tumor Cell Biology Department at St. Jude and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "In fact, producing ribosomes is practically what cells do for a living. It’s their major energy-consuming activity. So it makes sense that any limitation on ribosome production would slow cell growth."

Sherr’s team believes that Arf counteracts excessive growth-promoting stimuli by interfering with ribosome production. But inhibiting ribosomal production isn’t a particularly efficient way to control cell growth. "On the other hand, p53 activates many growth suppressive genes," Sherr said. "So Arf appears to have become more efficient because, by evolving a way to activate p53, it was able to extend its reach and inhibit many more cellular responses apart from ribosome synthesis."

Sherr is senior author of a report on these findings published in the February 2003 issue of Molecular Cell. Other authors of the study include Masataka Sugimoto, Mei-Ling Kuo and Martine F. Roussel, all of whom are St. Jude investigators.

The group studied the role of Arf in controlling ribosomal RNA production using a variety of mouse cells. The effects were then examined by inserting Arf genes into harmless viruses used to infect the cells, and by tracking the levels of newly synthesized RNA in the cells under various experimental conditions. The exact mechanism by which Arf interferes with ribosomal RNA synthesis remains unclear and is a subject for future research, according to Sherr.



This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, an NIH Cancer Center Core Grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and by ALSAC, the fund-raising arm of St. Jude.

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee, was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. The hospital is an internationally recognized biomedical research center dedicated to finding cures for catastrophic diseases of childhood. The hospital’s work is supported through funds raised by ALSAC. ALSAC covers all costs not covered by insurance for medical treatment rendered at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Families without insurance are never asked to pay. For more information, please visit www.stjude.org.

Bonnie Cameron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stjude.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer cachexia: Extracellular ligand helps to prevent muscle loss
25.02.2020 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

nachricht The genetic secret of night vision
25.02.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: High-pressure scientists in Bayreuth discover promising material for information technology

Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have discovered an unusual material: When cooled down to two degrees Celsius, its crystal structure and electronic properties change abruptly and significantly. In this new state, the distances between iron atoms can be tailored with the help of light beams. This opens up intriguing possibilities for application in the field of information technology. The scientists have presented their discovery in the journal "Angewandte Chemie - International Edition". The new findings are the result of close cooperation with partnering facilities in Augsburg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Moscow.

The material is an unusual form of iron oxide with the formula Fe₅O₆. The researchers produced it at a pressure of 15 gigapascals in a high-pressure laboratory...

Im Focus: From China to the South Pole: Joining forces to solve the neutrino mass puzzle

Study by Mainz physicists indicates that the next generation of neutrino experiments may well find the answer to one of the most pressing issues in neutrino physics

Among the most exciting challenges in modern physics is the identification of the neutrino mass ordering. Physicists from the Cluster of Excellence PRISMA+ at...

Im Focus: Therapies without drugs

Fraunhofer researchers are investigating the potential of microimplants to stimulate nerve cells and treat chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease. Find out what makes this form of treatment so appealing and which challenges the researchers still have to master.

A study by the Robert Koch Institute has found that one in four women will suffer from weak bladders at some point in their lives. Treatments of this condition...

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Turbomachine expander offers efficient, safe strategy for heating, cooling

25.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

The seismicity of Mars

25.02.2020 | Earth Sciences

Cancer cachexia: Extracellular ligand helps to prevent muscle loss

25.02.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>