Protein's work in eye lens suggests a way to tame cancer

November 12, 2015

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 12, 2015) - How does a protein called connexin put the clamps on cancer? Researchers in the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio today reported an explanation.

Study senior author Jean X. Jiang, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at the Health Science Center, said connexin tethers itself to a cell-proliferating molecule called Skp2. This prevents the Skp2 from traveling to the cell nucleus to promote more cell growth, she said.

The majority of cells in the body have connexin proteins, but primary tumors have very low amounts. "This is because the presence of connexins suppresses primary tumor growth," Dr. Jiang said.

Dr. Jiang and her team study the eye lens, which is rich in connexin proteins, as a model system to understand how connexin functions in cells throughout the body. First author of the study is Qian Shi, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Health Science Center.

"If there is a way to amplify the presence of connexin, then there can be a way to suppress the cell proliferation, for example in cancer," Dr. Jiang said.

In the future, cancer therapies could potentially be based on connexin molecules, the study suggests. The journal Developmental Cell published the findings online today (Nov. 12).

Dr. Jiang's research is funded by a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Eye Institute of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
-end-
For current news from the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, please visit our news release website, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or view us on YouTube.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the country's leading health sciences universities. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $801.8 million operating budget supports six campuses in San Antonio and Laredo. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit http://www.uthscsa.edu.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

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.