Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Harvard Medical School Researchers Identify Four Human Genes Essential To Cell Division; Discovery Yields New Target For Cancer Therapies

Date:
March 2, 1998
Source:
Harvard Medical School
Summary:
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified four human genes that serve a critical role in cell division. The findings provide a new target for anticancer agents, which may result in fewer therapeutic side-effects.

BOSTON--February 24, 1998--Researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified four human genes that serve a critical role in cell division. The findings provide a new target for anticancer agents, which may result in fewer therapeutic side-effects.

Hongtao Yu, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Marc Kirschner, the Carl W. Walter professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues used frog (Xenopus) protein sequences as a guide to identify the remaining four human genes in the eight-unit anaphase-promoting complex (APC). The APC's critical role in cell division makes it a perfect target for the fight against cancer, in which cells escape regulation and divide uncontrollably. The findings are published in the February 20 Science.

APC proteins are activated as the cell progresses through mitosis, but as yet, Kirschner and Yu do not know exactly how they are regulated. However, uncertainty about APC's regulation does not diminish the potential of this multi-subunit complex for anticancer therapeutics. With its seminal role in mitosis, the APC seems to be a perfect site to halt cell division. Like the anticancer drug Taxol that also disrupts mitosis, the advantage with an APC inhibitor would be preferential delivery to rapidly dividing tumor cells. "A lot of normal cells are just not dividing at all," says Yu. These law-abiding noncancerous cells would be invisible to the APC inhibitor, avoiding dangerous side effects that plague many anticancer drugs. The APC complex provides "a whole new set of targets which don't function at all in non-dividing cells," says Kirschner.

For successful cell division -- when the cytoplasmic and genetic contents of a cell are faithfully reproduced in the daughter progeny -- two cycles must be synchronized. The DNA is replicated in one cycle, and the chromosomes divide during mitosis -- the second cycle.

The APC is one of the mitotic ringleaders. "It is absolutely required for cell proliferation," says Yu. The protein complex drives a dividing cell from the metaphase stage of mitosis into anaphase--from the point in which the chromosomes find their partner and gather in pairs in the center of the cell, to the point in which each member of the chromosomal pair separates and migrates to the distant cellular poles. A new cell membrane forms between the chromosomal clumps, and mitosis concludes with the formation of two identical daughter cells, each containing an intact copy of the parent cell's genetic information.

An essential step in the development of any new drug is an accurate detection system that will report whether the compound being tested is having the desired effect on the target cell. If APC inhibition is detected following addition of a certain compound the chemical that sounded the alarm can be carefully investigated for its clinical suitability. The Kirschner group has filed a patent for the biochemical method that they devised for analyzing APC activity. The assay is amenable to automation, making it an attractive way to quickly screen many different chemical compounds.

"The intention is to use [the assay] to screen for small molecule inhibitors which might be very useful in anticancer and antiproliferation drugs," says Kirschner.

The study was funded by two grants from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard Medical School. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harvard Medical School. "Harvard Medical School Researchers Identify Four Human Genes Essential To Cell Division; Discovery Yields New Target For Cancer Therapies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980302071057.htm>.
Harvard Medical School. (1998, March 2). Harvard Medical School Researchers Identify Four Human Genes Essential To Cell Division; Discovery Yields New Target For Cancer Therapies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980302071057.htm
Harvard Medical School. "Harvard Medical School Researchers Identify Four Human Genes Essential To Cell Division; Discovery Yields New Target For Cancer Therapies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980302071057.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins