Navigation Links
Nature study: Jefferson researchers unravel protein's elusive role in embryo and disease development

PHILADELPHIAReporting in Nature, scientists from Thomas Jefferson University have determined that a single protein called FADD controls multiple cell death pathways, a discovery that could lead to better, more targeted autoimmune disease and cancer drugs.

Twelve years ago, internationally-known immunologist Jianke Zhang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Thomas Jefferson University, realized FADD, which stands for Fas-Associated protein with Death Domain, played an important role in embryonic development and the onset of some diseases, but he didn't know exactly why until now.

In the paper published online March 2, Dr. Zhang and researchers show this protein regulates not one but two types of cell deaths pivotal for embryo and disease development. It is now known that FADD causes apoptosis, the "healthy" cell death, while keeping necrosis, the "toxic" one, at bay.

Understanding this pathway is instrumental in developing drugs with selectivity and fewer side effects, said Dr. Zhang, a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson,

"This work has direct impact on our understanding of diseases: cancer, autoimmune disease, immune-deficiency disease," he said. "This is the one gene that regulates these two processes in cells, so now we can find targeted drugs to control the cell death process."

The research suggests that with the absence or variation in expression of this one protein, an embryo may not develop properly or a person may develop disease later in life.

"This breakthrough is a testimony to Dr. Zhang's research acumen and dogged determination to solve a longstanding mystery regarding the regulation of cell death pathways," said Tim Manser, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Jefferson. "It is gratifying to know that Thomas Jefferson University provides the research infrastructure that allows outstanding researchers like Dr. Zhang to make seminal discoveries, such as those reported in the Nature paper."

FADD's importance in embryogenesis and lymphocyte death response has been known, but the mechanism that underlies these functions in FADD has remained elusive.

Researchers found that mice that did not express FADD contained raised levels of RIP1, Receptor-Interacting Protein 1, an important protein that mediates necrosis and the apoptotic processes, and their embryonic development failed due to massive necrosis.

"When the FADD-mediated death process is deregulated, we will produce white bloods cells that will attack our own tissue, which is the cause of auto-immune diseases, such as arthritis and lupus," said Dr. Zhang. "And without the necessary cell deaths that are required for tumor surveillance, humans could develop cancer."

There are drugs currently under development today that activate TNF-a-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) death receptor signaling, which induces apoptosis through FADD in cancer cells specifically, but its mechanisms are not well understood and the treatment not perfected. There are also tumor cells that are resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis for unknown causes.

"The killing of these tumor cells is not efficient, and this paper actually figured out why," said Dr. Zhang. "We now know that the FADD protein, while required for apoptotic death, is inhibiting necrotic death in tumor cells."


Contact: Steve Graff
Thomas Jefferson University

Related biology news :

1. Solving the riddle of natures perfect spring
2. Turning to nature for inspiration
3. When nature calls
4. Study identifies new genetic signatures of breast cancer drug resistance
5. Simulations aim to unlock natures process of biomineralization
6. Parascript SignatureXpert Wins Forensic Signature Verification Competition
7. CIC Announces Upcoming Webinar: Business Challenges & Technology Solutions in 2011: What Leading Insurance Carriers are Planning Now; eSignature Implications
8. Brain scans detect autisms signature
9. Nature honors outstanding faculty mentor
10. California pistachios: Dietitian and Mother Nature approved
11. CIC Announces Upcoming Webinar: Insurance Consumer Expectations; Customer Experience & Self-Service Will Hit New Highs in 2011! The Role eSignatures Will Play in Meeting that Demand
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/10/2015)... 10, 2015  In this report, the ... of product, type, application, disease indication, and ... report are consumables, services, software. The type ... biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The ... diagnostics development, drug discovery and development, personalized ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of ... , today announced that the company has set a new quarterly ... quarter on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... PA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... This ... entrepreneurs at competitive events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas ... projects from each state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... SHPG ) announced today that Jeff ... 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in New York ... a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual ... 11:00 a.m. Israel time, at the law offices ... Street, 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... and Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; , ... , approval of an amendment to certain terms of options granted ...
Breaking Biology Technology: