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:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 28, 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... compared with the first quarter of 2015 The gross ... M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... CHICAGO , April 15, 2016  A ... companies make more accurate underwriting decisions in a ... offering timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance ... health screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid ... and lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical , an ... designed to target cancer stemness pathways, announced that ... Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and ... cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is ... inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that asks ... systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at the ... York City . The teams, chosen ... MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. Keynote ... of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today ... Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am ... and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: