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/

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>