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 July 28, 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 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