Proteins, unlike diamonds, aren't forever. And when they wear out, they need to be degraded in the cell back into amino acids, where they will be recycled into new proteins. Researchers at Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have identified a new way that the cell's protein recycler, the proteasome, takes care of unwanted and potentially toxic proteins, a finding that has implications for treating muscle wasting, neurodegeneration and cancer.
The consensus among scientists has been that the proteasome is constantly active, chewing up proteins that have exceeded their shelf life. A mounting body of evidence now suggests that the proteasome is dynamically regulated, ramping up its activity when the cell is challenged with especially heavy protein turnover. The researchers, postdoctoral associate Park F. Cho-Park and Hermann Steller, head of the Strang Laboratory of Apoptosis and Cancer Biology at Rockefeller, have shown that an enzyme called tankyrase regulates the proteasome's activity. In addition, Cho-Park and Steller demonstrate that a small molecule called XAV939, originally identified by scientists at Novartis who developed it as therapeutic for colon cancer, inhibits tankyrase and blocks the proteasome's activity. The research is reported in today's issue of the journal Cell.
"Our findings have tremendous implications for the clinic since it gives a new meaning to an existing class of small-molecule compound," says Steller, Strang Professor at Rockefeller and an investigator at HHMI. "In particular, our work suggests that tankyrase inhibitors may be clinically useful for treating multiple myeloma."
Tankyrase was originally identified in the late 1990s by Rockefeller's Titia de Lange and her colleagues in the Laboratory for Cell Biology and Genetics, who showed that it plays a role in elongating telomeres, structures that cap and protect the ends of chromosomes. In a series of experiments in fly a
|Contact: Joseph Bonner|