Nav: Home

UT Researchers find unique regulatory pattern that promotes essential cell function

April 21, 2016

KNOXVILLE--Scientists and clinicians often encounter road blocks in designing specific treatments for diseases like cancer or developmental disorders because proteins that regulate cell functions through complex mechanisms are misunderstood.

A researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has discovered a novel aspect of a fundamental cellular process that could be a key to overcoming that barrier.

Maitreyi Das, an assistant professor in UT's Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, found that during cytokinesis--the final stage of cell division when the cell physically separates into two--a signaling protein known as Cdc42 is activated and triggers a series of processes within the cell.

Defects in the control of Cdc42 have been associated with cancer. Scientists have speculated that Cdc42 plays a role in final cell division but didn't know how until now. Das discovered that Cdc42 is activated in a unique pattern to regulate the cytokinesis process.

"The signaling protein acts like an internal clock that allows events to happen in the right order," she said.

The findings were recently published as a highlighted article in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell.

Das, along with UT postdoctoral student Bin Wei and graduate student Brian Hercyk, studied the cell process using a model of fission yeast. The simple model provides scientists with a paradigm for similar studies in more complex organisms, she said.

"The findings advance our knowledge of a basic biological process," Das said.

To treat diseases such as cancer, researchers need to understand how a cancer cell behaves and what defects in that cell lead to the disease. Cell processes do not occur in an isolated way, Das said. Rather, they're connected to each other as part of a system.

"Understanding how something functions under normal conditions is the first step towards understanding the defects that lead to disease and designing a treatment for it," Das said. "Until we do that, we don't have a way to understand cancer and other diseases."
-end-
CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".