Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study pinpoints epigenetic function of common cancer-causing protein: It's not what science thought

Date:
September 26, 2012
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
"This is a potent oncogene whose mechanism we thought we knew. But basically in this paper we demolish the accepted model. DNp63a doesn't work through p53 – it operates through epigenetic silencing of anti-proliferative genes," says the study's senior author, Joaquin M. Espinosa, Ph.D.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is diagnosed in about 700,000 people in the United States every year. Commonly contributing to SCC is a protein called DNp63a -- it goes abnormally high and the ability of a patient's body to kill cancer cells goes abnormally low. In many cases of SCC, it's just that simple. And science thought the function of DNp63a was simple, as well: the tumor suppressor gene p53 is responsible for recognizing and killing cancer cells, and in SCC, it's usually inactivated. It looked like high DNp63a repressed p53, made SCC.

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published September 26 in the journal Genes & Development throws the accepted role of DNp63a on its ear. Though high DNp63a and low p53 activity are correlated in SCC, there's no causation -- DNp63a doesn't affect p53. Instead, DNp63a employs "epigenetics" to keep cancer cells alive.

"This is a potent oncogene whose mechanism we thought we knew. But basically in this paper we demolish the accepted model. DNp63a doesn't work through p53 -- it operates through epigenetic silencing of anti-proliferative genes," says the study's senior author, Joaquin M. Espinosa, PhD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and associate professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at CU Boulder.

Genes are blueprints that code for proteins and these proteins in turn drive most things that happen in the body, both good and bad. But between genes and their protein products is the layer of epigenetics -- genes may be expressed differently depending on the heritable, epigenetic features that turn them on and off. In the case of DNp63a, it employs a protein partner called H2A.Z, which in volume effectively buries anti-proliferative genes in silt, rendering them unable to go about their anti-cancer duties.

"Independently of p53, DNp63a is shutting down genes that stop cell division -- shutting down anti-proliferative genes so that cells can keep dividing and dividing and dividing," Espinosa says.

Now that the function of DNp63a is known, Espinosa is looking inside the chain of events for a breakable link.

"DNp63a itself isn't druggable," he says, "but the enzymes that partner with DNp63a for epigenetic silencing are."

With a mechanism in hand, Espinosa and colleagues can now explore in animal models the possible effects of breaking the DNp63a mechanism. Drug away an essential enzyme and DNp63a may lose its ability to cause cancer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. The original article was written by Garth Sundem. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Corrie L. Gallant-Behm, Matthew R. Ramsey, Claire L. Bensard, Ignacio Nojek, Jack Tran, Minghua Liu, Leif W. Ellisen, and Joaquín M. Espinosa. ΔNp63α represses anti-proliferative genes via H2A.Z deposition. Genes Dev., September 26, 2012 DOI: 10.1101/gad.198069.112

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Study pinpoints epigenetic function of common cancer-causing protein: It's not what science thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094601.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2012, September 26). Study pinpoints epigenetic function of common cancer-causing protein: It's not what science thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094601.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Study pinpoints epigenetic function of common cancer-causing protein: It's not what science thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094601.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. 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