Secrets of a little-known cancer ally revealed

February 14, 2018 by Bill Hathaway, Yale University
Yale lab discovered proteins that can reduce number of nucleolus, which make the cell’s protein factories. The findings has implications for cancer research. Credit: Baserga Lab

Human cancers often have a little recognized ally— the increased size and number of a cell's organelles called the nucleolus. The nucleolus is where ribosomes, the cellular protein factories, are made. Ribosomes can also be hijacked by cancer to produce proteins that fuel its growth.

A team of Yale University researchers have discovered a sort of master switching network of proteins crucial to sustain cell growth. The team—led by Susan Baserga and her graduate students Katie Farley-Barnes and Kat McCann in the Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry—screened for proteins crucial to the formation of nucleoli.

At the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery at the West Campus, they screened 18,000 proteins and found 139 that represent a myriad of that had unexpected control over production of ribosomes. Not only does this new approach reveal original insights into how the making of ribosomes drives cancer, but also links the making of ribosomes to human birth defects called ribosomopathies that can result in anemia and abnormal facial features.

The research was published Feb. 13 in the journal Cell Reports.

Explore further: In creation of cellular protein factories, less is sometimes more

More information: Katherine I. Farley-Barnes et al. Diverse Regulators of Human Ribosome Biogenesis Discovered by Changes in Nucleolar Number, Cell Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.056

Related Stories

Ribosomes found to induce somatic cell pluripotency

February 6, 2018

In 2012, a Japanese research group discovered that human skin cells acquire pluripotency when introduced to lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus). Now, the same group of researchers has found that the cause of ...

New protein regulated by cellular starvation

April 11, 2017

Researchers at the Center of Genomic Integrity, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), have found out an unexpected role for a protein involved in the DNA repair mechanism. The protein SHPRH not only helps to fix mistakes ...

Recommended for you

Scientists shed light on biological roots of individuality

February 16, 2018

Put 50 newborn worms in 50 separate containers, and they'll all start looking for food at roughly the same time. Like members of other species, microscopic C. elegans roundworms tend to act like other individuals their own ...

Plants are given a new family tree

February 16, 2018

A new genealogy of plant evolution, led by researchers at the University of Bristol, shows that the first plants to conquer land were a complex species, challenging long-held assumptions about plant evolution.

0 comments

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.