Nav: Home

Medical researchers find protein that marks difference between cancer and non-cancer cells

March 08, 2018

A discovery sheds light on how cancerous cells differ from healthy ones, and could lead to the development of new strategies for therapeutic intervention for difficult-to-treat cancers in the future.

An international team of investigators found a "stop sign"--a modified protein researchers named a PIP-stop--inside cells that are overused by cancerous cells that effectively prevents healthy ones from sorting material in the way they were designed to.

"We have discovered that breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and neuroblastoma cells have too many PIP-stops. This would upset protein function, and opens up a new avenue for developing drugs that block PIP-stop formation by kinase enzymes," said Michael Overduin, a University of Alberta cancer researcher and professor of biochemistry, who led the research project.

The team named the modification a PIP-stop because it stops proteins from interacting with lipid molecules called PIP.

Before making their discovery, the researchers first solved the 3-D structure of a sorting nexin protein, which is key to sorting proteins to their proper locations within the cell. Powerful magnets in the U.K. and in the National High Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre (NANUC), Canada's national magnet lab based in Edmonton, were then used to detect signals from within individual atoms within the protein structure.

By focusing on the protein structure, the team was able to discover the PIP-stop and see how it blocked the protein's function. The PIP-stop is a phosphate which is added to the protein surface that binds the PIP lipid, and normally controls how proteins attach to membranes.

Samples from cancer patients have too many PIP-stops, which could lead to the unregulated growth seen in tumour cells. Similar PIP-stops were found to be overused in a large number of other proteins involved in other cancer types, where they could also influence tumour growth.

"Our goal now is to design inhibitors for the overactive kinases that create PIP-stops, and to use this information to design drug molecules that block the progression of cancers, particularly those which lack effective treatments," said Overduin.
-end-
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications and was carried out using grants from Alberta Innovates and funders in the U.K. and Switzerland.

University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.
Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.
Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.
Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer 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

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
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.