Nav: Home

New front opened in fight against common cancer driver

February 20, 2020

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have revealed a new vulnerability in lymphomas that are driven by one of the most common cancer-causing changes in cells.

The team revealed that the protein MNT is required for the survival of lymphoma cells that are driven by the protein MYC. Up to 70 per cent of human cancers - including many blood cancers - have high levels of MYC, a protein which forces cells into abnormally rapid growth.

The research, led by Professor Suzanne Cory, Dr Hai Vu Nguyen and Dr Cassandra Vandenberg, suggests that potential therapies targeting MNT could be effective new treatments for MYC-driven cancers.

At a glance
  • The majority of human cancers are driven by high levels of the protein MYC, but it has been challenging to develop new medicines that directly inhibit MYC.
  • Our researchers revealed that MYC-driven lymphoma cells rely on the protein MNT for their survival, and without MNT the cells rapidly die.
  • The results suggest that inhibiting MNT might be an effective new approach for treating MYC-driven cancers.
A new target High levels of the MYC protein are found in up to 70 per cent of human cancers. MYC controls hundreds of genes, driving rapid cell production, said Professor Cory, who has studied MYC-driven cancers since the early 1980s.

"For many years we hoped for a drug that could directly target MYC as a potential cancer treatment, but to date such inhibitors have been disappointing in the clinic," she said. "It became clear we needed to look for other vulnerabilities in MYC-driven cancers."

The team successfully identified a new target for tackling MYC-driven cancers by homing in on the role of a protein related to MYC, called MNT. Their research was published in the journal Blood.

By deleting the gene encoding MNT from MYC-driven lymphocytes - the type of immune cell from which lymphomas arise - the team found that MNT played a significant role in MYC-driven lymphoma development, Dr Vandenberg said.

"In our laboratory models, the incidence of MYC-driven lymphomas was greatly reduced when MNT was absent. This showed us that MNT had a vital role at some stage during lymphoma development," she said.

"That role became clear when we found that pre-cancerous cells lacking MNT had high levels of apoptotic cell death," said Dr Nguyen. "Thus, MNT is required to keep MYC-driven cells alive."

Towards better treatments

Dr Nguyen said that the team went on to examine the impact of depleting MNT from fully malignant MYC-driven lymphomas. "When we did this, we saw that the tumour cells rapidly died," he said. "This suggests MNT could well be a promising new therapeutic target for MYC-driven lymphomas."

Professor Cory said the researchers would now look at whether MNT was important in other MYC-driven cancers.

"Inhibiting MNT may also make tumours more susceptible to other drugs such a BH3-mimetics which directly target the cell's death machinery.

"Although a lot of work remains to be done to develop and test a new MNT-inhibiting therapy, our discovery opens up a new front in tackling MYC-driven cancers," Professor Cory said.
-end-
The research was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the US-based Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, philanthropic support to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Victoria Government.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Related Protein Articles:

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.
Diets high in protein, particularly plant protein, linked to lower risk of death
Diets high in protein, particularly plant protein, are associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, finds an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ today.
A new understanding of protein movement
A team of UD engineers has uncovered the role of surface diffusion in protein transport, which could aid biopharmaceutical processing.
A new biotinylation enzyme for analyzing protein-protein interactions
Proteins play roles by interacting with various other proteins. Therefore, interaction analysis is an indispensable technique for studying the function of proteins.
Substituting the next-best protein
Children born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have a mutation in the X-chromosome gene that would normally code for dystrophin, a protein that provides structural integrity to skeletal muscles.
A direct protein-to-protein binding couples cell survival to cell proliferation
The regulators of apoptosis watch over cell replication and the decision to enter the cell cycle.
A protein that controls inflammation
A study by the research team of Prof. Geert van Loo (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) has unraveled a critical molecular mechanism behind autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis.
Resurrecting ancient protein partners reveals origin of protein regulation
After reconstructing the ancient forms of two cellular proteins, scientists discovered the earliest known instance of a complex form of protein regulation.
Sensing protein wellbeing
The folding state of the proteins in live cells often reflect the cell's general health.
Protein injections in medicine
One day, medical compounds could be introduced into cells with the help of bacterial toxins.
More Protein News and Protein Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.