Navigation Links
Cancer-causing gene discovery suggests new therapies

Scientists have discovered a novel way by which a much-studied cancer-promoting gene accelerates the disease. The finding suggests a new strategy to halt cancer's progress.

Up to now, research has largely focused on how the mutated gene, Myc, disrupts the ability of DNA to be "transcribed" into RNA the first step in making proteins that are essential for cell growth and function. But the new research shows that this altered Myc gene, called an oncogene, can also act directly on the final stage of protein production.

The finding in mice suggests that drugs already available to counter this increased protein production could slow or stop cancer's runaway growth induced by Myc. Rapamycin, for example, an immunosuppressant drug already in clinical trials for cancer, might help treat cancers where Myc is over active, the scientists suggest.

The discovery was led by Davide Ruggero, PhD, and Maria Barna, PhD, faculty scientists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Study findings were published in the journal "Nature" (December 18, 2008).

"Control of protein production rapidly affects cell behavior, and in a robust manner," explains Ruggero, assistant professor of urology at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-senior author on the paper with Barna. "The ability of the Myc oncogene to directly alter this process may well explain the rapid progression of cancer formation."

Scientists have known for some time that when the Myc gene is mutated and becomes an oncogene, it interferes with the early steps in DNA activity in the cell nucleus. But how the oncogene affected the subsequent production of proteins, a step known as translation, was unknown.

"A cancer causing gene, such as Myc, regulates many distinct cellular processes, and that can make it very difficult to tease apart which ones are the most important for the cancer to progress," says Barna, a faculty fellow in the UCSF biochemistry and biophysics department. "The key to our studies was the ability to generate novel genetic tools to halt Myc's action on protein production. This demonstrates how essential this process is for cancer formation."

To test whether protein production induced by Myc played a role in cancer, the UCSF- led team genetically crossed two types of mice: one that was cancer-prone and overexpressed the Myc oncogene and one that was newly engineered to lower protein production. The new cross of mice possessed not only the well-known destructive Myc traits, but also an enhanced ability to damp down protein production.

In these mice, the restrained protein production restored to near-normal the cell growth, division and protective cell-sacrifice needed to counter cancer.

The scientists also found that this increased control over the so-called "translation" of RNA into proteins countered damage to chromosome function otherwise caused by Myc, and preserved functions vital to faithful cell division. Changes in the genetic integrity of cells are recognized as hallmarks of cancer, and the new findings show that Myc can cause these abnormalities through control of protein production.

The research suggests that Myc may disrupt a number of genes "downstream" of its damage to DNA, the scientists say.

"We discovered a previously unrecognized link between alterations in protein synthesis and the mechanism by which cells maintain the integrity of the genome," Ruggero stresses. "We found that when Myc is overexpressed, this leads to changes in protein levels of a key gene that is essential for normal distribution of genetic material between daughter cells during cell division."

The findings are a positive step, he emphasizes, because they suggest that halting Myc's action on protein production with targeted therapies could prevent harmful genetic changes in cells that lead to cancer progression.


Contact: Kirsten Michener
University of California - San Francisco

Related biology news :

1. Cancer-causing gut bacteria exposed
2. Researchers identify cancer-causing gene in many colon cancers
3. Rare cancer-causing syndrome found, for the first time, in Singapore
4. Jumbo-sized discovery made in Malaysia
5. UC Davis discovery offers hope for treating kidney cancer
6. Life Sciences Discovery Fund awards health research program grants
7. In just 5 years, gene discovery to clinical trial of potential treatment
8. Discovery of new gene associated with diabetes risk suggests link with body clock
9. Kidney function discovery sheds light on genetic complexity of disease
10. New discovery may enhance MRI scans, lead to portable MRI machines
11. Discovery of giant roaming deep sea protist provides new perspective on animal evolution
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the ... mobile commerce market and creator of the Wocket® smart ... recently interviewed on The RedChip Money Report ... on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg Asia, Bloomberg Australia, ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... 2015  Based on its in-depth analysis of the ... with the 2015 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for ... presents this award to the company that has developed ... of the market it serves. The award recognizes the ... on customer base demands, the overall impact it has ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... 19, 2015  Although some 350 companies are actively ... a few companies, according to Kalorama Information. These include Roche ... the market share of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular testing ... Market for Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... still controlled by one company and only a handful ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York on ... Dr. Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. ... communication and investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) ... of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of ... corporate developments that would cause the recent movements in ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its ... as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV ... embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or ... Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the ... on November 23, 2015, which will result in ... giving effect to the issuance of such shares, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: