Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Identify New, Cancer-causing Role For Protein

Date:
August 29, 2009
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
The mainstay immune system protein TRAF6 plays an unexpected, key role activating a cell signaling molecule that in mutant form is associated with cancer growth, researchers report.

The mainstay immune system protein TRAF6 plays an unexpected, key role activating a cell signaling molecule that in mutant form is associated with cancer growth, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report in the Aug. 28 edition of Science.

"The mechanism that we discovered activates Akt and also contributes to hyperactivation of a mutant form of Akt found in breast, colon and other cancers," said senior author Hui-Kuan Lin, Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

Akt is a signaling protein that plays a central role in numerous biological functions, including cell growth and programmed cell death, or apoptosis, Lin said. Deregulated Akt expression has been found to contribute to cancer development.

"Our novel findings are that Akt undergoes ubiquitination to be activated, and that TRAF6 regulates that process. We've found that TRAF6 is not just involved in the innate immune response, but plays a role in cell growth and carcinogenesis," Lin said.

Ubiquitins are regulatory proteins that work by binding to other proteins. While ubiquitins are best known for marking a defective protein for death by the cell's proteasome complex, Lin said, ubiquitination of Akt is not tied to the proteasome. Ubiquitins are transferred to target proteins by another set of proteins called ligases.

Akt resides in the cell's cytoplasm and must be recruited to the cell membrane in order to be activated by attachment of phosphate groups to specific locations on the protein, Lin explained. The mechanism that gets Akt to the membrane had not been understood.

Because one type of ubiquitination involves protein movement, Lin's team launched a series of cell line experiments that showed Akt is ubiquitinated, and in a way not involving the proteasome.

Screening a different class of ubiquitin ligases showed that overexpression of TRAF6 E3 ligase promotes Akt ubiquitination. Subsequent experiments showed that Akt ubiquitination is required to move Akt to the cell membrane, and leads to Akt's phosphorylation and activation.

Next, the researchers analyzed a mutant form of Akt implicated in human breast cancer, finding that increased Akt ubiquitination contributes to the hyperactivation of Akt in the mutant cells. "We discovered this oncogenic Akt mutant is hyperubiquitinated," Lin said. "If you disrupt its ubiquitination, you deactivate the mutant."

The team found depleting TRAF6 in prostate cancer cells reduced Akt activation. And mice with TRAF6 knocked down developed smaller prostate cancer tumors than those with active TRAF6. "We believe that TRAF6 is a previously unrecognized oncogene and is a new potential target for treating human cancers," Lin said.

Having discovered this Akt activation pathway, Lin and colleagues are now trying to identify the enzyme that normally turns it off.

Research for this paper was funded by an M. D. Anderson Trust Scholar Fund award to Lin.

Co-authors are first author Wei-Lei Yang, Jing Wang, Ph.D., Chia-Hsin Chan, Ph.D., Szu-Wei Lee, Brian C. Grabiner, and Xin Lin, Ph.D., all of the department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology; Yang, Lee, and Grabiner are all students in The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, a joint operation of M. D. Anderson and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and Xin Lin is on the GSBS faculty; and Alejandro Campos, Betty Lamothe, Ph.D., Lana Hur, and Bryant Darnay, Ph.D., all of M. D. Anderson's Department of Experimental Therapeutics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Researchers Identify New, Cancer-causing Role For Protein." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827141356.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2009, August 29). Researchers Identify New, Cancer-causing Role For Protein. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827141356.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Researchers Identify New, Cancer-causing Role For Protein." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090827141356.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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