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New chemical probe provides tool to investigate role of malignant brain tumor domains
Date:3/1/2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. In an article published as the cover story of the March 2013 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Lindsey James, PhD, research assistant professor in the lab of Stephen Frye, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Pharmacy and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, announced the discovery of a chemical probe that can be used to investigate the L3MBTL3 methyl-lysine reader domain. The probe, named UNC1215, will provide researchers with a powerful tool to investigate the function of malignant brain tumor (MBT) domain proteins in biology and disease.

"Before this there were no known chemical probes for the more than 200 domains in the human genome that recognize methyl lysine. In that regard, it is a first in class compound. The goal is to use the chemical probe to understand the biology of the proteins that it targets," said Dr. James.

Chromatin regulatory pathways play a fundamental role in gene expression and disease development, especially in the case of cancer. While many chemical probes work through the inhibition of enzyme activity, L3MBTL3 functions as a mediator of protein-to-protein interactions, which have been historically difficult to target with small, drug-like molecules.The researchers found three to four further disease subtypes within TN tumors, with more than 75 percent of the tumors falling into the basal-like subtype. Further research is needed to identify the distinct biomarkers shared by the expanded subtypes of TN cancers. The ultimate goal will be to target the individual biomarkers of these subtypes and create therapies that target their individual biology, according to Dr. Perou.

"Many people believe that protein-protein interactions are difficult to target. Often they have a large surface area, so it is hard for small molecules to go in and intervene," said Dr. James.

Almost 40 percent of the genes that drive cancer can be mapped to d
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Contact: William Davis
william_davis@med.unc.edu
919-962-3405
University of North Carolina Health Care
Source:Eurekalert  

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