Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Key Protein That May Cause Cancer Cell Death Identified

Date:
January 20, 2009
Source:
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Summary:
A human protein called Bax-beta (Bax²), which can potentially cause the death of cancer cells and lead to new approaches in cancer treatment, has been identified and characterized.

Researchers at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have become the first to discover and characterize a human protein called Bax-beta (Baxβ), which can potentially cause the death of cancer cells and lead to new approaches in cancer treatment.

Detection of Baxβ has eluded scientists until now. Said Dr Victor Yu, principal investigator of the IMCB research team, "Our research findings reveal that Baxβ protein levels are normally kept at essentially undetectable levels in healthy cells by the protein degradation machine in cells known as proteasomes.

Proteasomes are "protein-digesting machines" that regulate cellular levels of various proteins including that of the lethal Baxβ, by breaking them into smaller components within the cell.

"Thus, the proteasomes are there to keep the lethal Baxβ in check," he added. "This is exciting — if the proteasome-mediated degradation of Baxβ could be inhibited specifically in cancer cells, it could cause the harmful cancer cells to go through apoptosis". In apoptosis, unwanted, damaged and infected cells are eliminated.

Until the discovery of Baxβ by Dr. Yu's team, only one single protein called Bax-alpha (Baxα) had been extensively studied in cells. Earlier evidence had suggested that more than one protein was encoded by the Bax gene.

However, only a single protein called Baxα had ever been detected and extensively studied in cells. Bax is known to be a key gene needed for the execution step of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

The researchers also found that Baxβ is able to associate with, and promote, Baxα activation, and that Baxβ, in its native form, is 100 times more potent than its sibling Baxα in triggering a key step in apoptosis.

The future development of novel compounds that can selectively elevate levels of Baxβ or stimulate its interaction with Baxα could also lead to new drug approaches to cancer treatment, as these compounds are likely to enhance the apoptotic signals triggered by many conventional cancer drugs, which frequently cause toxic side effects in patients when higher doses of drugs are needed.

Dr. David Andrews, Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada added, "The beta-isoform4 of Bax has been enigmatic for several years. Although earlier research had hinted at its existence, the protein has proven extremely difficult to detect or examine functionally. Even attempts to produce the protein in the laboratory have been largely unsuccessful. In this study the Yu group resolves these issues by demonstrating that in cells Baxβ is normally rapidly degraded and kept at low levels, and when it is not degraded, it is profoundly apoptotic on its own and works in concert with Baxα. These studies provide information necessary for the elucidation of the importance of Baxβ in cell physiology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fu et al. Baxβ: A Constitutively Active Human Bax Isoform that Is under Tight Regulatory Control by the Proteasomal Degradation Mechanism. Molecular Cell, 2009; 33 (1): 15 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2008.11.025

Cite This Page:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Key Protein That May Cause Cancer Cell Death Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164055.htm>.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. (2009, January 20). Key Protein That May Cause Cancer Cell Death Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164055.htm
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Key Protein That May Cause Cancer Cell Death Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090116164055.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
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