LA JOLLA, CAJune 18, 2014 Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a crucial process that regulates the development of blood vessels. The finding could lead to new treatments for disorders involving abnormal blood vessel growth, including common disorders such as diabetic retinopathy and cancer.
"Essentially we've shown how the protein SerRS acts as a brake on new blood vessel growth and pairs with the growth-promoting transcription factor c-Myc to bring about proper vascular development," said TSRI Professor Xiang-Lei Yang. "They act as the yin and yang of transcriptional regulation."
Yang and her colleagues reported the new findings this week in the biology journal eLife.
SerRS (seryl tRNA synthetase) belongs to a family of enzymes that have fundamental, evolutionarily ancient roles in the protein-making machinery of cells. But as Yang's and other laboratories have been finding in recent years, some of these protein-maker enzymes seem to have evolved extra functions.
SerRS in particular has taken on a second basic role in animal biology. Findings from other laboratories in 2004 and 2009, mainly from genetic studies of zebrafish, first pointed to its involvement in vascular development, also known as angiogenesis. Animals with mutations to a certain part of the SerRS gene developed abnormal blood vessel systems, accompanied by excess levels of the key blood-vessel growth factor VEGFA. The implication was that SerRS somehow is needed for the proper regulation of VEGFA.
In a report published in 2012, Yang and her laboratory analyzed the portion of the SerRS protein that appears to mediate its involvement in vascular development. They found that this part of SerRS contains a special molecular homing sequence, apparently acquired several hundred million years ago during the emergence of vertebrates. The homing sequence causes a significant fracti
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Scripps Research Institute