Stowers researcher answers fundamental question of cell death

Jan 10, 2005

Chunying Du, Ph.D., Assistant Investigator at the Stowers Institute, has published findings that reveal a previously unknown pathway of Bruce, the gene encoding a protein that inhibits apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Bruce has long been recognized as an inhibitor of apoptosis, but until now, its method of inhibition was not clear. Dr. Du analyzed Bruce mutant mice and found that Bruce regulates p53, a tumor suppressor gene, and the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis.

Bruce's primary function resides upstream of mitochondria. Loss of function of Bruce increases the level of p53, making cells more sensitive to apoptosis. The transcriptional activity of p53 is responsible for the activation of genes including Pidd, Bax, and Bak. These in turn activate mitochondria, leading to apoptosis.

"The identification of Bruce as a regulator of p53 raises the possibility that therapeutic inactivation of Bruce activity could keep p53 levels high to combat certain tumors," said Dr. Du. "On the other hand, over expression of Bruce may help maintain cell survival in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease." "Dr. Du's findings answer a fundamental question of apoptosis and have implications for a wide variety diseases," says Robb Krumlauf, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Stowers Institute. "These findings are an example of the broad impact of basic research conducted at the Stowers Institute."

Dr. Du joined the Stowers Institute in 2001. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Beijing Normal University, and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. From 1998 to 2001, she was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Xiaodong Wang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She currently holds a secondary appointment as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

The findings are available online at www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0408744102v1 and will be published in the Jan. 18 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Source: Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Explore further: Individuals may fail to navigate complex tradeoffs in privacy decision-making

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft profit dips as revenue rises

1 hour ago

Microsoft on Monday reported that its quarterly profit dipped as revenue increased with help from sales of Surface tablets, Xbox One consoles and cloud services.

Black hole chokes on a swallowed star

2 hours ago

A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole ...

Montana oil spill estimate lowered to 30,000 gallons

3 hours ago

Authorities have lowered their estimate of how much oil spilled from a broken pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, briefly contaminating the water supply of a city downstream.

Recommended for you

Satire has a history of informing during times of crisis

8 hours ago

Just as only the jester can tell the King the truth, satire performs a vital function in democratic society by using humor to broach taboo subjects, especially in times of crisis, according to a book by Penn State researchers.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.