Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mayo Clinic researchers discover how key cancer protein works

24.10.2003


Understanding cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers are the first to describe what goes wrong during the growth cycle of certain cells that can lead to inherited forms of breast cancer. Knowing the nature of this biochemical modification is a first step to designing drugs that can correct it to stop cancer.

The Mayo Clinic research finding appears in today’s issue of the journal Science. It is important because it solves an aspect of a mystery that cancer researchers worldwide have been intensely investigating. Their question is: How do the regulating mechanisms of the "cell-cycle" work?



The cell cycle is the complex, natural -- and normally orderly -- process by which cells reproduce. The Mayo Clinic research reveals the details of a molecular mechanism involved in cell cycle regulation of a gene known as the "BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene." They focused on this gene because an estimated 50 percent of inherited breast cancers are linked to growth errors -- also called mutations -- in this gene. They hypothesized that a specific kind of biochemical modification was involved in disrupting the cell cycle to cause BRCA1 mutations. And they were right.

"With this breast cancer gene, the understanding is that if this gene is mutated it may trigger additional mutations throughout your lifetime and that contributes to a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. We wanted to understand the molecular mechanism behind this," says Junjie Chen, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Department of Oncology, and lead author of the Science report. "Now that we understand one aspect of it, this allows us to go to the next level, such as how to use our understanding to target cells so we can gain control of the cell cycle to stop cancers."

In the language of science, their principal finding is this: That a specific biochemical modification known as "phosphorylation" (fos-for-a-LAY-shun) is required at certain cell-cycle stages to activate proteins associated with the BRCA1 gene. These proteins are essential to the effective tumor-suppression function that BRCA1 genes perform.

Biology Backgrounder

Genes are strings of DNA molecules. They are found on chromosomes within cell nuclei. DNA is like a storage bin for vital information -- like the hard drive of a computer. To be useful, a computer hard drives needs to run a program that performs work. It’s the same with DNA. To be useful, it runs programs (RNAs) that make desired products. The products are proteins. Proteins are the substances that carry out all life functions, which is why advanced cancer research focuses on them.

To do their jobs, proteins need to be activated. They become activated by binding to other protein partners. The Mayo Clinic team investigated a specific kind of protein the BRCA1 gene codes for, known as a BRCT-domain protein. The BRCT-domain influences how the protein binds and with what protein partners it binds -- which in turn, affects the role the protein plays in the cycle of cell growth. BRCT domains are found in many proteins involved in cell-cycle regulation, and have for some years been thought to be key players in cell-cycle regulation. But just how they did so was not known.

The Mayo Clinic Research Solves The Mystery

The Mayo team showed that phosphorylation of a binding partner is necessary to activate the BRCT-domain protein. Once activated, the BRCT-domain protein then helps regulate vital tasks in the cell cycle. These tasks include repairing DNA or signaling DNA damage. When these tasks are accomplished, the BRCA1 gene can function correctly to suppress tumors. Without phosphorylation of BRCA1 binding partners, BRCA1 cannot function to suppress tumors. This leaves cells vulnerable to the cumulative mutations that can eventually produce breast cancer.

Implications for Patient Care

This finding is an important early step in research to devise new anti-cancer treatments. Understanding the interactions between BRCT domains and their targets will help researchers make the next move: to devise drug interventions that exploit phosphorylation bonds between key proteins. In this way, they could therapeutically regulate the cell cycle.

Robert Nellis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/current

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria use their enemy -- phage -- for 'self-recognition'
23.04.2019 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Scientists propose new theory on Alzheimer's, amyloid connection
23.04.2019 | Florida Atlantic University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple and Fast Method for Radiolabelling Antibodies against Breast Cancer

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Quantum gas turns supersolid

23.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>