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Mayo discovers protein as potential tactic to prevent tumors

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that a protein that initiates a "quality control check" during cell division also directs cell death for those cells damaged during duplication. This knowledge represents a potential "bulls eye" for targeting anti-tumor drugs. The findings appear in the current issue of Science.

The researchers examined a protein called cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2), which works as a "quality control inspector." As normal cells divide, they pause in the replication process when they find inaccurate genetic code embedded in their DNA. The health and well-being of offspring cells depends on accurate genetic code transfer from one generation of cells to the next. The Mayo researchers showed that when errors in genes are irreparable, CDK2 modifies another cellular protein -- FOXO1 -- to send a signal that results in the death of the cell. This protein-to-protein relationship invites targeted drug intervention to control unregulated growth of cancer cells.

"Quality control within dividing cells is essential because mistakes during duplication of the genetic code can lead to cancer," says Donald Tindall, Ph.D., co-leader of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center prostate cancer research program. "CDK2 is a key protein component in the cellular mechanism that leads to repair of damaged DNA."

If cells pass this quality control checkpoint, they can resume the process of dividing into two daughter cells. If, however, major irreparable discrepancies occur in the genetic code, cells are shunted toward a molecular sequence that leads to death, or apoptosis. Cells have the genetic knowledge to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the organism rather than to pass on errant genetic codes that can lead to disease. Genetic errors that sneak past the cell's quality control check-points can make the cell prone to develop into cancer.

How It Happens

The Mayo researchers documented that CDK2 infuses high energy int
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Source:Mayo Clinic


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