Nav: Home

RNA editing study shows potential for more effective precision cancer treatment

April 26, 2018

If there is one thing all cancers have in common, it is they have nothing in common. A multi-center study led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has shed light on why proteins, the seedlings that serve as the incubator for many cancers, can vary from cancer to cancer and even patient to patient, a discovery that adds to a growing base of knowledge important for developing more effective precision therapies.

Findings from the study, led by Han Liang, Ph.D., associate professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Systems Biology, were published in the April 26 online issue of Cancer Cell.

Liang's and Mills' team discovered how a particular type of RNA editing called adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) RNA plays a key role in protein variation in cancer cells. RNA editing is the process by which genetic information is altered in the RNA molecule. Once thought rare in humans and other vertebrates, RNA editing is now recognized as widespread in the human genome.

Since cancer can arise from vastly different protein types and mutations, the promise of individualizing therapies for each patient is reliant upon a better understanding of the protein "genome," an area of study called proteomics. Understanding the molecular mechanism contributing to protein variation and diversity is a key question in cancer research today, with significant clinical applications for cancer treatment.

"Using data from The Cancer Genome Atlas and the National Cancer Institute's Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium, our study provides large-scale direct evidence that A-to-I RNA editing is a source of proteomic diversity in cancer cells," said Liang. "RNA editing represents a new paradigm for understanding the molecular basis of cancer and developing strategies for precision cancer medicine. If a protein is only highly edited in tumor proteins, but not in normal proteins, then it's possible that a specific drug could be designed to inhibit the edited mutant protein."

It has long been known that A-to-I RNA editing allows cells to tweak the RNA molecule resulting in nucleotide sequences which alter DNA "instructions" for how proteins are generated and how they are assembled within the cell.

The researchers demonstrated how A-to-I RNA editing contributes to protein diversity in breast cancer by making changes in amino acid sequences. They found one protein, known as coatomer subunit alpha (COPA), increased cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro, following A-to-I RNA editing.

"Collectively, our study suggests that A-to-I RNA editing contributes to protein diversity at least in some cancers," said Mills. "It is an area of study that deserves more effort from the cancer research community to elucidate the molecular basis of cancers, and potentially developing prognostic and therapeutic approaches."
-end-
MD Anderson study team participants included Xinxin Peng, Ph.D., Xioyan Xu, Ph.D., Yumeng Wang, Zhicheng Zhou, Ph.D., and Kamalika Mojumdar, Ph.D., Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; David Hawke, Ph.D., Shuangxing Yu, M.D., Kang Jin Jeong, Ph.D., Marilyne Labrie, Ph.D., and Yiling Lu, M.D., Department of Systems Biology; and Minying Zhang, Ph.D., and Patrick Hwu, M.D., Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology.

Other participating institutions included China Medical University, Beijing; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston McGovern Medical School;

Study funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health (CA168394, CA098258, CA143883, CA016672, CA209851, CA175486, and 1S10OD012304-1); the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (RP140462 and RP130397); the National Scientific Foundation of China (8152777); the Lorraine Dell Program in Bioinformatics for Personalization of Cancer Medicine; The University of Texas System STARS Award; the Adelson Medical Research Foundation.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Related Cancer Articles:

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.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
More Cancer News and 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

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.