With the support of researchers from the division of Professor Dr. Michael Boutros, DKFZ and Mannheim Medical Faculty, the investigators switched off each individual gene of the cancer cells. Then they searched under the microscope for multipolar, malformed spindles. They found 82 genes which play a role in centrosome clustering. The team took a closer look at 22 of these and investigated their particular role in clustering. In the process, the scientists discovered a key mechanism: For the centrosomes to be bundled into clusters, the spindle fibers need to be under tension. Only tightly stretched spindle fibers will position the centrosomes close enough to each other for clusters to form. A whole range of proteins are responsible for this tension. If their genes are silenced, multipolar spindles form and the cancer cells die. This mechanism might be used for developing new cancer therapies.
"Such a therapy would hit the cancer very specifically, because only tumor cells have extra centrosomes and depend on the survival trick of clustering," study head Alwin Krmer explains. In the framework of a strategic alliance of DKFZ with Bayer-Schering, the researchers in Krmer's team are now planning to look among the identified genes for suitable targets for a targeted cancer therapy.
|Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstaedt|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres