New activity found for a potential anti-cancer agent

November 02, 2009

Pateamine A (PatA), a natural product first isolated from marine sponges, has attracted considerable attention as a potential anti-cancer agent, and now a new activity has been found for it, which may reveal yet another anti-cancer mechanism. That's the assessment of Daniel Romo, a Texas A&M chemistry professor, and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University who are pioneers in research involving this novel marine natural product.

Messenger RNA (mRNA), as its name indicates, copies messages from genes on DNA and uses these messages to produce proteins, and the human body functions well only with the right types and amount of proteins. So, what happens when mRNA gets damaged? Will the wrong proteins produced by the wrong messages carried by mRNA damage a person's body?

Don't worry - it's under surveillance, and PatA has been found to inhibit one such surveillance mechanism called NMD, Romo says.

NMD stands for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, a key mechanism in the cell to degrade damaged and not fully functional mRNA. NMD watches inside the body 24 hours a day, and whenever damaged mRNA is found, NMD attaches a "bad-mRNA" tag on it and summons an army to destroy it.

However, with cancer cells, inhibition of NMD is desirable.

"We found that PatA and a simplified, easier to synthesize derivative of PatA called desmethyl,desamino-PatA (DMDAPatA) inhibit NMD," the Texas A&M professor says. "This may contribute to the apoptosis (suicide) of tumor cells."

Romo and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg and European Molecular Biology Laboratory published their recent findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Romo is no stranger to PatA. He began to work on its synthesis more than a decade ago. In 1998, the Texas A&M professor's group achieved the first laboratory synthesis of PatA, and, in 2005, using a PatA conjugate, his collaborator, professor Jun O. Liu at Johns Hopkins, found that PatA inhibits the initiation phase of protein synthesis, which gives PatA the potential to fight cancer.

"Tumor cells are more actively producing new proteins than normal cells, so tumor cells are hundreds if not thousands of times more vulnerable to DMDAPatA's inhibition of protein synthesis, which makes DMDAPatA a good candidate as an anti-cancer agent," he explains.

"DMDAPatA is structurally simpler than PatA but exhibits similar activity in inhibiting NMD and protein synthesis," Romo notes. "It has been patented by Texas A&M, evaluated by two pharmaceutical companies, and continues to be evaluated as a potential anti-cancer agent for both human and animal (pet) applications."
-end-
Contact: Daniel Romo at (979) 845-9571 or romo@tamu.edu or Miao Jingang at miaojingang@tamu.edu.

About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamunews.tamu.edu.

Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tamutalk.

Texas A&M University

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins 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.