Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery of a new mechanism of gene control that is associated with cancer

Date:
June 17, 2011
Source:
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Summary:
In a new study, scientists reveal the mechanism of action of a protein that is essential for life and is associated with disease.

Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and at IRB Barcelona have revealed the mechanism of action of a protein that is essential for life and is associated with disease.

Researchers headed by Joan Massagué at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York and by María Macías at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a complex mechanism by which some proteins that are essential for life, called Smads, regulate the activity of genes associated with cancer. The fruit of three years of intense work, the study reports on the life cycle of this protein, a process that ensures that the protein is destroyed when it has completed its function. These results have been published June 17 in the top journal Genes & Development.

In the TGF-beta/Smad signal cascade, the hormones TGF-beta and BMP transmit information to the Smad protein in the cell nucleus in order for this molecule to stop cell division and to ensure that tissues grow in an orderly and coordinated manner. Although the TGF-beta/Smad signalling pathway has been known for over twenty years, until now it was unclear how Smads temporally controlled the activity of such important genes. "We had several pieces of the puzzle but we couldn't put them together," says Macías.

A number of earlier studies performed by Massagué's lab had identified that Smads undergo phosphorylations -a kind of chemical change -- in a region of the protein about which little is known. By means of biophysical and biochemical approaches, the researchers have discovered that these modifications occur in a coordinated fashion over time and are not random. "First, phosphorylations make some proteins bind to Smads in order to control the activity of target genes and later other phoshorylations cause protein bindings that lead to the destruction of Smad once this protein has completed its mission. This is the way cells prevent fatal errors," explains Macías.

Having established the time sequence of these events, the scientists used cell and structural biology approaches -determination of the atom position in Smad proteins and other activating and destructor proteins bound to them- to confirm the results previously found. "We have been able to decipher the specificity of the binding between Smad and other proteins and to reveal the secret code that these proteins use to extract information."

How do these proteins favour tumour cells? Massagué explains that "these signalling cascades are like the body's pólice force. The tumour cells, in other words the delinquents, disturb these pathways and use them for their own means to grow and spread." These pathways normally are involved in basic cell processes but when altered by mutations several diseases can appear such as cancer, congenital conditions, chronic inflammation and emphysema. These results could serve as the foundation on which to develop new clinical treatments against cancer and other diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric Aragón, Nina Goerner, Alexia-Ileana Zaromytidou, Qiaoran Xi, Albert Escobedo, Joan Massagué, and Maria J. Macias. A Smad action-turnover switch operated by WW domain readers of a phosphoserine code. Genes & Development, June 17, 2011 DOI: 10.1101/gad.2060811

Cite This Page:

Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). "Discovery of a new mechanism of gene control that is associated with cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617110636.htm>.
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). (2011, June 17). Discovery of a new mechanism of gene control that is associated with cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617110636.htm
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). "Discovery of a new mechanism of gene control that is associated with cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617110636.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) — Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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