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Discovery of a new reprogramming mechanism for tumor cells
Date:12/4/2011

Barcelona, 1st December, 2011.- A study by researchers Ral Mndez, ICREA Research Professor at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and Pilar Navarro at the IMIM (Institut de Recerca Hospital del Mar, Barcelona) describes a new reprogramming mechanism for the expression of genes responsible for turning a healthy cell into a tumor cell. In the study, published in this week's edition of Nature Medicine, the scientists have identified the protein CPEB4 as a "cellular orchestra conductor" that "activates" hundreds of genes associated with tumor growth.

"The peculiarity is that it would not only be the mutation of a specific gene that promotes tumor growth but the expression of a protein in an incorrect site that "triggers" hundreds of messenger molecules (mRNAs), which transmit gene information for the synthesis of proteins, without these genes being mutated. This process leads to the expression of many "normal" genes but in unsuitable amounts and times that more greatly resemble early embryonic developmental stages rather than the stages of adult organ development", explains Ral Mndez, an expert in the CPEB protein family. "This would be the case of tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), a protein that is not normally found in the healthy pancreas but that shows high expression in pancreatic tumors", clarifies Elena Ortiz-Zapater, the first author of the article, and Pilar Navarro.

Tumors are 80% smaller when CEPB4 is absent

One of the conclusions highlighted in the study is that in the tissues examined, pancreas and brain, CPEB4 is not detected in healthy cells but only in tumor ones. Thus inhibition of this protein would provide a highly specific anti-tumor treatment and with few adverse effects, "one of the main drawbacks of many cancer therapies", says Pilar Navarro, a researcher specialized in pancreatic cancer.

Using experiments involving human cancer cells in mice, these researchers have dem
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Contact: Sonia Armengou
sonia.armengou@irbbarcelona.org
34-934-037-255
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert  

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