Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

UTSW Researchers Identify New Potential Target for Cancer Therapy

Published: Monday, April 22, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have found that alternative splicing – a process that allows a single gene to code for multiple proteins – appears to be a new potential target for anti-telomerase cancer therapy.

The enzyme telomerase is overexpressed in almost all cancer cells, and previous research efforts have failed to identify good telomerase inhibitors. The study by Dr. Woodring Wright and UT Southwestern colleagues in the April 4 issue of Cell Reports identifies a new approach for inhibiting telomerase, which is an enzyme that drives uncontrolled division and replication of cancer cells.

Alternative splicing allows genetic information to be assembled in different ways and is almost always controlled by DNA sequences that are immediately adjacent to the parts of a gene that code for protein. “In the case of the telomerase gene, we found that these controlling regions are located very far from the protein coding regions and that they contain unusual DNA sequences,” said Dr. Wright, professor of cell biology and internal medicine. “Their unusual DNA structure suggests that humans regulate telomerase in a very different fashion that we may be able to exploit to develop inhibitors of the enzyme.”

Most of the splice variants that telomerase makes are inactive, but Dr. Wright’s team demonstrated that it was possible to shift the splicing to make even less active telomerase, potentially providing a new approach for cancer therapy.

Telomeres are specialized structures at the ends of each chromosome. As DNA replicates, telomeres shorten each time a cell divides. Telomerase in human cancer cells is 10 to 20 times more active than in normal body cells. The increase provides a selective growth advantage to many types of tumors. If telomerase activity was to be turned off, then telomeres in cancer cells would shorten like they do in normal body cells.

“The oft-used analogy is that telomeres are like the plastic ends of shoelaces that protect them from fraying,” Dr. Wright said. “Once the plastic becomes damaged and falls off, the shoelace can no longer be threaded effectively. The only solution at that point is to throw the shoelace away.”

In most tissues, telomerase turns off during development, after which telomeres shorten and limit the number of times a cell can divide, eventually losing their capping function similar to the shoelace tip falling off. This timing also functions as a tumor-protection mechanism, since the limited cellular lifespan prevents pre-malignant cells from accumulating the mutations they need to become cancerous.

Preclinical studies have shown that inhibiting telomerase causes tumor cells to lose immortality, re-initiate telomere shortening, and eventually die. In the event that a tumor has already thoroughly developed, it may be surgically removed, and following conventional chemotherapy, telomerase inhibition could prevent rare surviving cells from having enough divisions to cause a relapse.

Dr. Wright said the alternative splicing method also could be useful for regenerative medicine, because telomeres in our stem cells shorten with age and that eventually compromises their function. “Under the right circumstances, increasing or decreasing telomerase activity could profoundly affect our treatments for both cancer and aging,” he said.

The investigation was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Other UT Southwestern researchers participating in the study are graduate student Sze “Mandy” Wong, who served as first author; research associate Ling Chen; medical student Radhika Kainthla; and Dr. Jerry Shay, professor of cell biology and a senior member of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

CRI Develops Innovative Approach for Identifying Lung Cancer
Institute has developed innovative approach for identifying processes that fuel tumor growth in lung cancer patients.
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
HIV Protein Manipulates Hundreds of Human Genes
Findings search for new or improved treatments for patients with AIDS.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Synthesize Nanoparticles
Synthetic nanoparticles to deliver tumor-suppressing therapies to damaged livers.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Tumor-suppressing Gene Works by Restraining Mobile Genetic Elements
Findings from the study leads to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
UTSW Researchers Identifies How Drugs Alter Pancreatic Cancer Cells
The findings were published in Cell Reports.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Gene-editing Technique Successfully Stops Progression of DMD
CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing to correct the mutation in the germ line of mice and prevent muscular dystrophy.
Friday, January 01, 2016
UT Southwestern Scientists Discover a New Role for RNA
Safeguarding chromosome number in human cells, with implications for cancer biology.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Scientists Detect Inherited Traits Tied to Sleep and Wake Associated with Severe Bipolar Disorder
Study provides targets for new approaches to prevent and treat bipolar disorder.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
UT Southwestern Scientist Honored as Rising Star in Texas Research
Dr. Joshua Mendell selected as the recipient of the 2016 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist Receives Breakthrough Prize
Dr. Helen H. Hobbs receives prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
UT Southwestern Biochemist Receives NIH Early Independence Award
Dr. William Israelsen studies on hibernation may aid the fight against cancer.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist to Receive Pearl Meister Greengard Prize
Dr. Helen Hobbs will receive the prize Nov. 17 in a ceremony at The Rockefeller University.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Physiologists Uncover a New Code at the Heart of Biology
New “code” - the speed limit of assembly - dictate the ultimate function of a given protein.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Cell that Replenishes Heart Muscle Found by UT Southwestern Researchers
Researchers devise a new cell-tracing technique to detect cells that do replenish themselves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Scientific News
Common Cell Transformed into Master Heart Cell
By genetically reprogramming the most common type of cell in mammalian connective tissue, researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison have generated master heart cells — primitive progenitors that form the developing heart.
Genetic Mutation that Prevents Diabetes Complications
The most significant complications of diabetes include diabetic retinal disease, or retinopathy, and diabetic kidney disease, or nephropathy. Both involve damaged capillaries.
Could the Food we Eat Affect Our Genes?
Almost all of our genes may be influenced by the food we eat, according to new research.
Neanderthal DNA Influences Human Disease Risk
Large-scale, evolutionary analysis compares genetic data alongside electronic health records.
Improving Regenerative Medicine
Lab-created stem cells may lack key characteristics, UCLA research finds.
Tick Genome Reveals Secrets of a Successful Bloodsucker
NIH has announced that decipher the genome of the blacklegged tick which could lead to new tick control methods.
"Dark Side" of the Transcriptome
New approach to quantifying gene "read-outs" reveals important variations in protein synthesis and has implications for understanding neurodegenerative diseases.
Individuals' Medical Histories Predicted by their Noncoding Genomes
Researchers have found that analyzing mutations in regions of the genome that control genes can predict medical conditions such as hypertension, narcolepsy and heart problems.
New Source of Mutations in Cancer
Recently, a new mutation signature found in cancer cells was suspected to have been created by a family of enzymes found in human cells called the APOBEC3 family.
Advancing Synthetic Biology
Living systems rely on a dizzying variety of chemical reactions essential to development and survival. Most of these involve a specialized class of protein molecules — the enzymes.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!