New chemical probe provides tool to investigate role of malignant brain tumor domains

March 01, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - In an article published as the cover story of the March 2013 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Lindsey James, PhD, research assistant professor in the lab of Stephen Frye, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Pharmacy and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, announced the discovery of a chemical probe that can be used to investigate the L3MBTL3 methyl-lysine reader domain. The probe, named UNC1215, will provide researchers with a powerful tool to investigate the function of malignant brain tumor (MBT) domain proteins in biology and disease.

"Before this there were no known chemical probes for the more than 200 domains in the human genome that recognize methyl lysine. In that regard, it is a first in class compound. The goal is to use the chemical probe to understand the biology of the proteins that it targets," said Dr. James.

Chromatin regulatory pathways play a fundamental role in gene expression and disease development, especially in the case of cancer. While many chemical probes work through the inhibition of enzyme activity, L3MBTL3 functions as a mediator of protein-to-protein interactions, which have been historically difficult to target with small, drug-like molecules.The researchers found three to four further disease subtypes within TN tumors, with more than 75 percent of the tumors falling into the basal-like subtype. Further research is needed to identify the distinct biomarkers shared by the expanded subtypes of TN cancers. The ultimate goal will be to target the individual biomarkers of these subtypes and create therapies that target their individual biology, according to Dr. Perou.

"Many people believe that protein-protein interactions are difficult to target. Often they have a large surface area, so it is hard for small molecules to go in and intervene," said Dr. James.

Almost 40 percent of the genes that drive cancer can be mapped to dysfunction within signaling pathways. In the last five years, chemical probe development has allowed researchers to make fundamental observations of the role of these pathways in cancer development, as well as pointing to potential targets for new therapies. Each of the complex interactions within the signaling pathways represents a potential point where a therapy can be applied, and the probes allow researchers to interact with these processes at the molecular level and observe the overall effect of their perturbation on the disease state.

In a 2008 Nature Chemical Biology commentary, Dr. Frye outlined the qualities that make a good chemical probe. To Frye, a good chemical probe must be highly selective to enable specific questions to be asked and it must function as well in a cell as in the test tube, providing clear quantitative data with a well understood mechanism of action in either situation. It also must be available to all academic researchers without restrictions on its use, a criteria that the L3MBTL3 probe fulfills through the Frye lab's commitment to provide researchers with the probe free of charge on request and UNC1215 is already available through commercial vendors as well.
-end-
This research was supported by NIH grants (RC1GM090732 and R01GM100919) and the University Cancer Research Fund.

University of North Carolina Health Care

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.