Discovery of a mechanism that controls the expression of a protein involved in numerous cancers

October 20, 2010

Researchers at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal have identified a new mechanism controlling the transmission of an abnormal signal at the origin of several cancers. In an article published in the journal Cell, Marc Therrien's team explains the recent discovery of a protein complex that controls the RAS/MAPK signalling pathway, responsible for some of the deadliest cancers, including pancreatic, colon and lung cancers, and melanomas. This regulating mechanism could prove to be a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of these diseases. The study conducted on the drosophila model organism is to be verified in humans in a forthcoming step.

Marc Therrien and his team focus their research on the RAS/MAPK signalling pathway, which is deregulated in several tumours. To send a message to the cell, the information must be relayed by proteins contained in this signalling pathway. In the case of the RAS/MAPK pathway, the message is given by RAS and the last protein in the pathway, MAPK, transmits the message to the cell's control centre, the nucleus. However, the RAS/MAPK pathway sometimes transmits erroneous messages which cause the cell to proliferate non-stop.

"Our study shows that a protein complex, EJC, controls production of the MAPK protein, which acts directly on the cell. When this complex is deficient, the signalling pathway is inhibited which restricts the chaotic proliferation of the cell at the origin of many cancers," Marc Therrien explains. "If we target EJC and the factors that regulate its activity, we could potentially prevent the transmission of abnormal signals that trigger several cancers."

In addition to serving as a promising therapeutic target for treating cancer, the regulating mechanism discovered for MAPK could also apply to several other genes. "Our research could serve to explain the production of other proteins with a behaviour similar to MAPK. This mechanism could help us to understand gene expression in general," Marc Therrien concludes.

The breakthrough was made possible by the SOLiD™ Next Generation Sequencing System manufactured by Life Technologies, which enabled the researchers to view the overall consequences of the elimination of EJC on the expression of all of the cell's genes. "IRIC has adopted a cutting-edge technological infrastructure, without which this kind of work would be impossible," explains Dr. Guy Sauvageau, Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director of the IRIC. "The Life Technologies sequencing equipment allows us to perform cutting-edge research by quickly obtaining accurate and complete results."

-end-
About the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at Université de Montréal

Founded in 2002, IRIC brings together a team of internationally recognized investigators whose mission is to unravel the mysteries of cancer and to provide unparalleled training to the next generation of health research scientists. IRIC engages in bold initiatives with elite partners across North America and abroad that span from basic science and translational research to clinical applications, with the ultimate goal of providing lifelong cures to cancer. For more information about IRIC, please visit www.iric.ca.

Paper cited

Ashton-Beaucage D, Udell CM, Lavoie H, Baril C, Lefrançois M, Chagnon P, Gendron P, Caron-Lizotte O, Bonneil E, Thibault P, Therrien M. (2010) The exon junction complex controls the splicing of MAPK and other long intron-containing transcripts in Drosophila. Cell 143 :251-262

University of Montreal

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.