A network of signals active in almost all types of cancer sends the protein factories in our cells into overdrive, and may help fuel a tumour's uncontrolled growth, new research suggests.
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, identified a molecular trigger responsible for ratcheting up activity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) the cellular factory that makes the building blocks cancer cells need to keep growing.
A protein in the TOR signalling pathway, called SREBP, controls the flow of messages to the endoplasmic reticulum telling it to expand and could allow cancer cells to produce enough proteins and lipids to fuel their non-stop growth.
The findings may help to explain how cancer cells maintain their high levels of metabolism and could uncover future targets for cancer treatment.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE, and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from the Wellcome Trust.
Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells are constantly growing, and so need to keep making proteins and lipids - the building blocks of all cells.
In healthy cells constant growth can overwhelm cellular factories like the ER, leading to cell stress and death, but cancer cells manage to keep their factories running at high capacity to fuel non-stop growth.
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) used the cells of fruit flies, modified with a fluorescent marker that is activated when the cells are put under stress, to identify the signals responsible for driving up activity of the ER.
They systematically silenced genes thought to be important to the smooth working of the ER and measured the stress signals produced in response.
They found that silencing the TOR signalling pathway - activated in many different types of cancer - increased ER stress in the cells. When they blocked TOR signals, ce
|Contact: Graham Shaw|
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council