Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New mechanism for cancer progression discovered

Date:
November 27, 2012
Source:
University of North Carolina Health Care
Summary:
Researchers have discovered an alternative mechanism for activating rhe oncogene Ras that does not require mutation or hormonal stimulus.

The protein Ras plays an important role in cellular growth control. Researchers have focused on the protein because mutations in its gene are found in more than 30 percent of all cancers, making it the most prevalent human oncogene.

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Harvard researchers have discovered an alternative mechanism for activating Ras that does not require mutation or hormonal stimulus. In healthy cells, Ras transmits hormone signals into the cell that prompt responses such as cell growth and the development of organs and tissues. A mutation on the RAS gene can chronically activate those signals, leading to tumor initiation and progression.

In an article published on-line in a November issue of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the UNC and Harvard teams discovered that modification of Ras at a specific site with a small protein known as ubiquitin can also lock Ras into an active signaling state. Thus, modification of Ras with a single ubiquitin -- a process known as monoubiquitination -- switches Ras to an active signaling state by disrupting the action of another protein known as the GTPase activating protein, or GAP. Work by two of the papers co-authors, Atsuo Sasaki and Lewis Cantley of Harvard, had previously found evidence for Ras's potential to become activated and promote Ras-mediated tumorigenesis by monoubiquitination.

Because of the strong link between Ras and cancer, Ras should be an attractive target for drug discovery efforts. Despite considerable efforts at developing treatments targeting the protein, Ras itself is now considered to be 'undruggable', leading researchers to try new approaches to developing drugs that target activated Ras. This could lead to benefits beyond cancer therapies, as the RAS gene has also been linked to developmental disorders such as Noonan syndrome, Costello syndrome and autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome.

Lead researcher Rachael Baker, a PhD candidate doing joint work in the labs of Henrik Dohlman, PhD, professor of pharmacology and vice chair of biochemistry and biophysics and Sharon Campbell, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC, developed a novel method to modify Ras with ubiquitin and then subsequently characterized how ubiquitin modification can lead to Ras activation.

The attachment of ubiquitin to Ras at a specific site leads to Ras activation, much like with an oncogenic mutation, leading to an increased potential for cancer formation. Baker notes that the reaction can be reversed by enzymes in the cell that remove ubiquitin, making these enzymes possible targets for future pharmaceutical research.

"Establishing how Ras is activated by ubiquitin is just the first step in understanding this novel mechanism of cellular regulation." said Campbell.

The researchers next step will be to obtain a more detailed understanding of its role in cancer progression, first in cells and in animals and eventually in cancer patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care. The original article was written by William Shawn Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina Health Care. "New mechanism for cancer progression discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094311.htm>.
University of North Carolina Health Care. (2012, November 27). New mechanism for cancer progression discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094311.htm
University of North Carolina Health Care. "New mechanism for cancer progression discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094311.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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