Researchers discover potential cancer therapy target

Feb 14, 2011

One of the most important genes in the human genome is called p53 and its function is to suppress tumours, according to Roger Leng, a researcher in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Leng has discovered the mechanism by which p53 is inactivated in cancerous cells, allowing tumours to grow.

"Successful completion of the proposed experiments could lead to novel anti-cancer therapies that could potentially improve the prognosis for cancer patients and reduce the public health burden from cancer," said Leng.

It has long been known by scientists that another protein, MDM2, lowers in the body, but in cancerous cells p53 is inactivated in more than 50 per cent of all human tumours. MDM2 does not have the ability to functionally silence the tumour suppressing protein on its own, leaving scientists wondering what molecule in the body is helping MDM2 to nearly eliminate p53 in cancerous cells.

Leng's lab has answered that question and the culprit is called UBE4B. Leng made the discovery because he found that UBE4B binds with both p53 and MDM2. From there his lab was able to discover the relationship between the proteins.

Paired with MDM2, also known as HDM2 in humans, the two proteins completely degrade p53 in a laboratory model. This is a process known as poly-ubiquitination, which means a specific protein completely disappears in a cell.

They also did experiments on cancerous human brain tissue and found the same results.

"They have the same function," said Leng. "The idea now is you can target UBE4B and MDM2 won't function."

This discovery landed Leng in the pages of one of the highest-impact scientific journals, Nature Medicine. His work was published online on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Now, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Scholar and Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded scientist wants to further understand the mechanisms by which UBE4B functions.

"We want to understand how it regulates MDM2," said Leng. "We also want to see, if you get DNA damage, what happens in UBE4B and p53."

All of which could provide answers which eventually lead to a pharmacological target for cancer therapy.

Explore further: Quarter of prostate cancer patients may abandon 'watchful waiting' approach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study pinpoints protein's role in cancer spread

Jul 24, 2006

Edinburgh scientists have identified the way a specific cell protein can trigger the spread of cancer. The study by researchers in the Cell Signalling Unit, University of Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre could pave the way ...

Study sheds light on cancer-causing gene regulation

Aug 16, 2010

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have uncovered the genes that regulate MDM2, an oncogene that, in turn, regulates the tumor suppressor protein p53. But instead of an on-off switch for MDM2, the ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

7 hours ago

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

davaguco
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
I suspect that a moderately healthy life, and also enhancing Telomerase and p53 activity would bring an organism very close to immortality... maybe something else is needed?

More news stories

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...