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LSUHSC research reveals structure of master regulator and new drug target for autism, cervical cancer
Date:1/9/2014

New Orleans, LA A team of scientists at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has discovered the structure of the active form of E6-associated protein (E6AP), an enzyme that acts as a master regulator in the body. They report, for the first time, that the active form of E6AP is composed of three distinct protein molecules. E6AP controls functions as diverse as the ability of nerve cells to "rewire" themselves in response to external stimuli and the mechanism by which certain viruses, like human papillomaviruses or HPV, hijack normal cellular processes in order to replicate a process that can ultimately lead to cancer. The research will be published in the January 10, 2014, issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"Because the assembly of cells is like an elaborate tinker toy set in which the parts can be used in different combinations to serve various roles, E6AP normally functions in nerve cells to direct brain development and in a functionally related process termed neuronal plasticity which allows nerve cells to alter their patterns of communication with neighboring cells during learning," notes Arthur Haas, PhD, the Roland Coulson Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans and Director of the laboratory in which the work was performed.

The research team included lead investigator Dr. Virginia Ronchi, a postdoctoral fellow, and her colleagues, Jennifer Klein and Dr. Daniel Edwards, all of whom work in Dr. Haas's laboratory at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine.

Inherited loss of E6AP function in the brain results in the mild to severe neurodevelopmental defects of Angelman Syndrome which occur in 1 in 10,000-20,000 births. Angelman Syndrome is a developmental condition characterized by severe mental retardation in children because the brain is unable to "learn" by adapting its nerve connections to outside stimuli. In contrast, othe
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Contact: Leslie Capo
lcapo@lsuhsc.edu
504-568-4806
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Source:Eurekalert

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