Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cancer-causing Gene Discovery Suggests New Therapies

Date:
January 25, 2009
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a novel way by which a much-studied cancer-promoting gene accelerates the disease. The finding suggests a new strategy to halt cancer's progress.

Scientists have discovered a novel way by which a much-studied cancer-promoting gene accelerates the disease. The finding suggests a new strategy to halt cancer’s progress.

Related Articles


Up to now, research has largely focused on how the mutated gene, Myc, disrupts the ability of DNA to be “transcribed” into RNA – the first step in making proteins that are essential for cell growth and function. But the new research shows that this altered Myc gene, called an oncogene, can also act directly on the final stage of protein production.

The finding in mice suggests that drugs already available to counter this increased protein production could slow or stop cancer’s runaway growth induced by Myc. Rapamycin, for example, an immunosuppressant drug already in clinical trials for cancer, might help treat cancers where Myc is over active, the scientists suggest.

The discovery was led by Davide Ruggero, PhD, and Maria Barna, PhD, faculty scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Study findings were published in the journal Nature (December 18, 2008).

“Control of protein production rapidly affects cell behavior, and in a robust manner,” explains Ruggero, assistant professor of urology at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-senior author on the paper with Barna. “The ability of the Myc oncogene to directly alter this process may well explain the rapid progression of cancer formation.”

Scientists have known for some time that when the Myc gene is mutated and becomes an oncogene, it interferes with the early steps in DNA activity in the cell nucleus. But how the oncogene affected the subsequent production of proteins, a step known as translation, was unknown.

“A cancer causing gene, such as Myc, regulates many distinct cellular processes, and that can make it very difficult to tease apart which ones are the most important for the cancer to progress,” says Barna, a faculty fellow in the UCSF biochemistry and biophysics department. “The key to our studies was the ability to generate novel genetic tools to halt Myc’s action on protein production. This demonstrates how essential this process is for cancer formation.”

To test whether protein production induced by Myc played a role in cancer, the UCSF- led team genetically crossed two types of mice: one that was cancer-prone and overexpressed the Myc oncogene and one that was newly engineered to lower protein production. The new cross of mice possessed not only the well-known destructive Myc traits, but also an enhanced ability to damp down protein production.

In these mice, the restrained protein production restored to near-normal the cell growth, division and protective cell-sacrifice needed to counter cancer.

The scientists also found that this increased control over the so-called “translation” of RNA into proteins countered damage to chromosome function otherwise caused by Myc, and preserved functions vital to faithful cell division. Changes in the genetic integrity of cells are recognized as hallmarks of cancer, and the new findings show that Myc can cause these abnormalities through control of protein production.

The research suggests that Myc may disrupt a number of genes “downstream” of its damage to DNA, the scientists say.

“We discovered a previously unrecognized link between alterations in protein synthesis and the mechanism by which cells maintain the integrity of the genome,” Ruggero stresses. “We found that when Myc is overexpressed, this leads to changes in protein levels of a key gene that is essential for normal distribution of genetic material between daughter cells during cell division.”

The findings are a positive step, he emphasizes, because they suggest that halting Myc’s action on protein production with targeted therapies could prevent harmful genetic changes in cells that lead to cancer progression.

Co-authors with Ruggero and Barna are Aya Pusic, BS, scientific research assistant; Ornella Zollo,PhD, and Maria Costa, PhD, postdoctoral fellows, and Nadya Kondrashov, BA, all at UCSF; Eduardo Rego at the Center for Cell Based Therapy, Fundacao Hemocentro de Rebeiaro Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Pulivarthi Rao in the Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine.

The research was funded by the National institutes of Health and the Sandler Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maria Barna, Aya Pusic, Ornella Zollo, Maria Costa, Nadya Kondrashov, Eduardo Rego, Pulivarthi H. Rao & Davide Ruggero. Suppression of Myc oncogenic activity by ribosomal protein haploinsufficiency. Nature, 2008; 456 (7224): 971 DOI: 10.1038/nature07449

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "Cancer-causing Gene Discovery Suggests New Therapies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123143912.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2009, January 25). Cancer-causing Gene Discovery Suggests New Therapies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123143912.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "Cancer-causing Gene Discovery Suggests New Therapies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090123143912.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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