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CIHR news: U of S scientists find plant gene that affects stress resistance
Date:1/25/2008

we can study this group of genes at the whole organism level, rather than just at the cellular level, which could have applications down the road for human and animal medicine in fighting cancer and infections, said Xiao, noting that plant, animal and human studies are increasingly converging around gene-based research.

In previous research using human cells, Xiao found that human genes similar to the four plant genes not only fight carcinogens but play a role in fighting viral and bacterial infections.

There are actually two closely related genes involvedone fighting against infections and the other against cancer, said Xiao. The two genesBeauty and the Beastcomplement each other when they work together, but if Beast is constantly being expressed to stimulate cells to uncontrollably reproduce, this situation can lead to cancer.

Xiaos discovery of the Beauty and Beast genes that may govern the development of cancer is cited in Milestones in Canadian Health Research: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/35216.html

Ten years ago, Xiao discovered a gene in bakers yeast that when inactivated causes cells to be more susceptible to DNA-damaging agents. His team then identified two similar human genes and found that when either of these was put into the yeast cells containing the inactivated gene, the problem was soon fixed and the cells grew normally.

The plant gene products under study by Xiao and Wang bind with a protein (Ubc13) which has recently been found to control activation of the immune response. This protein has also been linked to an increasing number of human diseases, including Parkinsons and breast cancer.

Long term, the teams goal is to develop screening tests for humans and animals that could detect a cancer-causing imbalance, allowing earlier treatment and prevention. Diagnostic antibodies suitable for such tests have been developed by Xiao and his U of S colleagues and have been licensed to California-based
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Contact: Kathryn Warden
kathryn.warden@usask.ca
306-966-2506
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Source:Eurekalert

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