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A new cellular pathway linked to cancer is identified by NYU researchers
Date:7/24/2008

thways. Up to 60% of cancers, for example, have mutations in p53, a tumor suppressor gene and G2 checkpoint regulator that operates in a separate pathway.

Inhibiting this new pathway with a drug could make cancer cells especially vulnerable to DNA damage, causing cancerous cells to die rather than pausing to correct the problem, Dr. Pagano says. Unlike cancer cells, which already have a less efficient checkpoint, normal cells have a fully functioning G2 checkpoint and divide less frequently, sparing them from drug-induced cell death.

The central player in this pathway is the protein complex called APC/C, which is involved in multiple aspects of cell regulation through a trash disposal system that shreds proteins. In response to DNA damage, the cell targets Cdc14B, an enzyme that rips phosphate groups off of other proteins, to APC/C, an action which turns on the shredder. Once APC/C is turned on, it tags its target, Plk1, for disposal. If Plk1 remains active, the cell will continue to divide. Unlike the G2 checkpoint pathways that have been previously described, the researchers believe this one is "ancient" because it is evolutionarily conserved in organisms from yeast to humans.

According to the study, the deregulation of these three pathway components (Cdc14B, APC/C, and Plk1) in cancer cells correlates with lower survival rates in patients. Researchers will need to perform further studies to determine how these proteins are altered in cancer. Some of the effect might be due to changes in the levels of proteins expressed, but it is currently unknown whether mutations to these proteins might also play a role.


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Contact: Jennifer Berman
jennifer.berman@nyumc.org
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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