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Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover a general mechanism that accelerates tumor development
Date:2/24/2013

Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell division and growth. In order to identify new therapeutic targets through which to tackle the disease, scientists seek to clarify the mechanisms that control the expression of genes that favor the development of tumors, in processes such as uncontrolled cell division. Today, Nature has published a paper by the lab headed by Ral Mndez, ICREA professor at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The study describes a mechanism controlled by the CPEB1 protein that affects more than 200 genes related to cell proliferation and tumor progression. The mechanism, which was discovered using Hodgkin lymphoma cells, has been proposed as a general regulatory system that enhances the spread of cancer.

The researchers describe that CPEB1 shortens a highly specific region of RNAs (RNAs are the molecules that carry gene information for protein synthesis). This region holds most of the signals that determine whether an RNA molecule is made into a protein or not. "CPEB1 "takes off the brakes" for hundreds of RNAs that stimulate cell desdifferentiation and proliferation, allowing them to be made into proteins; however, in addition to removing the brakes in the nucleus, this protein accompanies RNA to the cytoplasm, where it speeds up the production of these proteins", explains the senior author of the paper Ral Mndez, head of the "Translational control of cell cycle and differentiation" group at IRB Barcelona.

Ral Mndez is an expert on the CPBE protein family, a type of RNA-binding protein that has a positive and crucial role in early embryo development. "CPEB proteins are necessary during development and also during tissue regeneration via stem cells in adults, but if the programme governed by CPEBs is continually switched on, cells divide when they are not supposed to and form a tumor", explains Mndez. The CPEB family comprises four proteins, which compensate each other's normal function bu
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Contact: Snia Armengou
armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover a general mechanism that accelerates tumor development
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