Isoforms from Novel Structure Proteins (NSP), a new family of genes discovered by researchers in the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine in Temple University's College of Science and Technology, could be involved in apoptosis or programmed cell death.
NSPs were discovered four years ago by Nianli Sang, then a doctoral student at the University and now an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University and the Cardeza Foundation, and Antonio Giordano, director of the Sbarro Institute (http://www.shro.org) at Temple.
The researchers noted at that time that this family of genes sits mostly in the nucleus of our cells and exhibits the characteristics of a tumor-promoting gene. One form of the gene, the isoform NSP5a3a, is highly expressed in some tumor cell lines and could be very useful as a tumor marker, Giordano said. A protein isoform is a version of a protein with only small differences to another isoform of the same protein.
In the latest study, "Possible Functional Roles of NSPs in Cancer," published in Cell Cycle (Vol. 7, Iss. 12), the Temple researchers examined the gene in Hela cells, or cervical cancer cell lines, to further characterize the possible role of these NSPs.
"So far, we've been able to confirm that two of the NSPs' four isoforms, called NSP 5a3a and NSP 5a3b, interact with a protein called B23, a multifunctional protein that is involved in cellular processes such as cell division, DNA repair and apoptosis," said Luca D'Agostino, a research fellow in the Sbarro Institute and the study's lead author.
In the study, the researchers silenced the expression first of NSP 5a3a. They also did the same for B23, and both in combination, always in-vitro.
"We saw that when we lowered the expression of NSP 5a3a, the cell's viability was not affected and they continued proliferating," D'Agostino said. "They must have a mechanism to c
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