Navigation Links
The ends of mRNAs may prevent the beginnings of cancer
Date:8/20/2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 20, 2009) The tail ends of cellular protein templates, regions often thought relatively inconsequential, may actually play a role in preventing normal cells from becoming cancerous.

The finding from scientists at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical research is reported in the August 20 edition of Cell.

Proteins are made from templates that are copied from a cell's DNA. These templates, called messenger RNAs (mRNAs), comprise three sections. The middle section codes for the actual protein, while the beginning and end sections are known as untranslated regions (UTRs) because they do not code for any portion of the protein. Instead, the beginning section gets protein production started, while the tail section, called the 3'UTR, appeared simply to be along for the ride.

"This end of the mRNA is often not considered that important because if you put the beginning and middle of the mRNA into a cell, you get the right protein," says Christine Mayr, first author of the Cell paper and a former postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Member David Bartel. "But now we know that this end often has a protein production regulatory program and in some cases can play a role in cancer."

A cell uses proteins in almost all of its processes, from cell division, to transporting essential molecules, to providing the cell's structure. Because the cell's protein production profile is tightly controlled and specific to the cell's type and stage in its life cycle, the over- or under-production of certain proteins can alter normal cellular function. These changes can include uncontrolled cell division and the ability to grow in the absence of a substrateboth defining traits of cancer cells.

When Mayr compared mRNAs produced in normal cells with those in cancerous cells, she noticed that the tail end of the cancer cells' mRNAs were cut short. In some cases, nearly 95% of the 3'UTR was missing.

"So now, in the cancer cell, the same protein is being made, but a lot of regulatory sequences have been lost," says Mayr. "And in the beginning, I had no idea what this means. But then I found that those shorter mRNAs were making much more protein."

In fact, the shorter mRNAs were producing between two and 40 times more protein than their normal-length counterparts. When Mayr altered normal cells so they produced only shortened mRNAs for a specific gene, the cells again produced huge amounts of that mRNA's protein. And the copious proteins transformed normal cells into cancer-like cells.

"So, my theory is that in normal cells, genes are tightly regulated by their long 3'UTRs," says Mayr. "And the cancer cell somehow has the ability to express the shorter mRNA without those regulatory sequences. Without that regulation, it's able to express large quantities of protein."

Although Mayr has established a connection between short 3'UTRs and cancer cells, how the cells shorten their mRNAs remains a mystery.

"The next step is to try to explain this phenomenon mechanistically," says Bartel, who is also a professor of biology at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "There has to be biochemical machinery that causes shortened 3'UTRs in cancer cells, something that the cancer cells have that normal cells don't have. Right now, the biochemical cause of this is not known."


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Controlling for size may also prevent cancer
2. Avocados may help prevent oral cancer, OSU study shows
3. Dietary calcium could possibly prevent the spread of breast cancer to bone
4. Bilberry extract -- can it help prevent certain cancers?
5. Preventing tuberculosis reactivation
6. Knocking out cell receptor may help block fat deposits in tissues, prevent weight gain
7. Scripps research team blocks bacterial communication system to prevent deadly staph infections
8. Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research
9. NASA technology helps predict and prevent future pandemic outbreaks
10. Childrens Hospital studying drug with the potential to prevent/delay onset of type 1 diabetes
11. Tamiflu effective for treatment and prevention of influenza in children 1 year and older
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/20/2016)... 2016 A market that just keeps on ... the explosion in genomics knowledge. Learn all about it ... range of dynamic trends are pushing market growth and ... - pharmacogenomics - pathogen evolution - next generation sequencing ... greater understanding of the role of genetic material in ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... Puerto Rico , Jan. 15, 2016 ... big and small to find new ways to ensure ... culture. iOS and Android ... based on biometrics, transforming it into a hardware authorization ... that users swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled ...
(Date:1/11/2016)... 2016  higi, the leading retail and omni-channel community ... web and mobile, today announced it has closed ... investors. --> --> ... innovate higi,s health platform – its network of ... including expanding services and programs to retail partners ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NBIX ) ... December 31, 2015. --> --> ... net loss of $29.3 million, or $0.34 loss per share, compared ... share for the same period in 2014. For the year ended ... million, or $1.05 loss per share, as compared to a net ...
(Date:2/11/2016)...  Bioethics International, a not-for-profit organization focused on the ethics ... made accessible to patients around the world, today announced that ... publication of the Good Pharma Scorecard an ... as one of BMJ Open ,s ,Most Popular Articles, ... most frequently read. Ed Sucksmith , assistant editor ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... February ... ... a business-to-business publication dedicated to delivering cutting-edge information focused on the development ... Life Sciences to become a premier sponsor of the 2016 BioProcess International ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... 2016   BioInformant announces the February 2016 ... Products, Opportunities, Tools, and Technologies – Market Size, Segments, ... The first and only ... industry, BioInformant has more than a decade of historical ... by stem cell type. This powerful 175 page global ...
Breaking Biology Technology: