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New data on the regulation of a protein that is altered in all cancers
Date:4/20/2010

This release is available in Spanish.

In all cancers, whether in kidney, breast, lung, colon, skin or any other tissue, cells show high Myc protein levels. Excess Myc causes cells to multiply in an exaggerated manner, giving rise to the development of tumours. One of the most pressing questions about Myc is how healthy cells keep the expression of this protein in check. In a study using the Drosophila, researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) headed by ICREA scientist Marco Miln have discovered that the microRNA machinery controls the levels of Myc through the molecule Mei-P26, thereby conferring microRNAs unexpected importance. The study is published this week in EMBO Journal, a scientific journal of high impact in basic biomedical research that belongs to the Nature group.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small molecules that account for less than 1% of the human genome; however, they play a key role in cell function because they have the capacity to disable or modify a great number of genes. High levels of certain miRNAs cause cancer. In previous studies conducted in mice, it was demonstrated that the Myc protein controls the expression levels of miRNAs. Now scientists have discovered in Drosophila that miRNAs affect the levels of Myc. "We propose that there is a finely tuned mechanism by which miRNAs and Myc are mutually controlled", explains Miln. The researchers suggest that the cell uses this mechanism to maintain optimal levels of miRNA and Myc, indispensable for the proper functioning of the organism, while preventing their becoming dangerous.

Mei-P26, the key component

The researchers discovered this new regulatory mechanism by removing Drosophila's 150 miRNAs from a developing wing. Without miRNAs, they obtained a tissue with similar characteristics to that atta
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Contact: Sonia Armengou
sonia.armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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