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

CU Study Suggests Link Between Tumor Suppressors and Starvation Survival

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A particular tumor suppressor gene that fights cancer cells does more than clamp down on unabated cell division, it also can help make cells more fit by allowing them to fend off stress.

CU-Boulder Professor Min Han said the research team was interested in how a common tumor suppressor gene known as Retinoblastoma 1, or Rb, behaved under conditions of starvation. The question is important, said Han, because it may help researchers understand why many cancer cells are more susceptible to starvation or fasting than ordinary cells.

Han and his team studied a popular lab organism called C. elegans, a translucent nematode smaller than an eyelash. Many of the C. elegans genes have similar, corresponding human genes called homologs, and almost all cellular mechanisms found in the nematodes also are found in mammals, including humans, he said.  The team charted changes in the physiology of newly hatched C. elegans in the absence of food to look at the corresponding stress response.

“We found the tumor suppressor Rb is a critical regulator of the starvation response,” said Han, who also is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator. “Rb is known for doing more than just suppressing cell division associated with cancer -- it carries out a host of other cellular tasks including regulating development.  The new findings by our group and research by other groups suggest organisms survive longer when they encounter starvation by regulating the expression of a large number of genes.”

A paper on the subject was published online May 9 in Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press. The co-authors on the study, Mingxue Cui, Max Cohen and Cindy Teng, are all researchers associated with both CU-Boulder and HHMI. The study was funded by HHMI and the National Institutes of Health.

As part of the study, the researchers monitored the two- to three-week survival time of hundreds of C. elegans hatchlings in an environment with no food, which caused immediate “developmental arrest,” said Han, a professor in CU-Boulder’s molecular, cellular and developmental biology department. “The survival time of the young nematodes is dramatically shorter when the Rb gene is mutated, which causes changes in the activities of multiple cell signaling pathways.”

The study suggests that Rb plays a critical role in maintaining a starvation-induced “transcriptome,” which is the transcription of DNA to corresponding bits of RNA that allow researchers to pinpoint when and where each gene is turned on or off in the cells, he said. Under starved conditions, for example, Rb represses some responses induced by other physical stressors like pathogens and toxins.

Han said the Rb gene is mutated in a large percentage of human cancers. Hundreds of mutations in the RB gene have been identified in people with retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that usually strikes young children.

“Altogether, these findings identify Rb as a critical regulator of the starvation response and suggest a link between functions of tumor suppressors and starvation survival,” the team wrote in Current Biology. “These results may provide mechanistic insights into why cancer cells are often hypersensitive to starvation treatment.”

There are about 330 HHMI Investigators in the nation, including 15 Nobel laureates and 157 members of the National Academy of Sciences.  Other HHMI Investigators at CU-Boulder include Natalie Ahn, Kristi Anseth, Tom Cech (also a Nobel laureate) and Roy Parker. In addition, HHMI Investigator Lee Niswander is at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

Founded in 1953 by aviator and industrialist Howard R. Hughes, HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation’s largest philanthropies.  In 2012 HHMI spent $800 million for research and $119 million for science education.


Further Information
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,600+ 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

Next-Gen Melanoma Drug Excels in Lab Tests
Anti-cancer activity was reported in 10 out of 11 patient tumor samples grown in mice and treated with the experimental drug TAK-733.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Serendipity Points to New Potential Target and Therapy for Melanoma
A University of Colorado Cancer Center describes a new target and potential treatment for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
Long-sought Discovery Fills in Missing Details of Cell 'Switchboard'
A biomedical breakthrough reveals never-before-seen details of the human body’s cellular switchboard that regulates sensory and hormonal responses.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
New Mussel-Inspired Surgical Protein Glue
Korean scientists have developed a light-activated, mussel protein-based bioadhesive that works on the same principles as mussels attaching to underwater surfaces and insects maintaining structural balance and flexibility.
Web App Helps Researchers Explore Cancer Genetics
Brown University computer scientists have developed a new interactive tool to help researchers and clinicians explore the genetic underpinnings of cancer.
Researchers Develop Vaccine that Protects Primates Against Ebola
A collaborative team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the National Institutes of Health have developed an inhalable vaccine that protects primates against Ebola.
Nanoparticles Can Clean Up Environmental Pollutants
Researchers have found that nanomaterials and UV light can “trap” chemicals for easy removal from soil and water.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
AncestryDNA and Calico to Research the Genetics of Human Lifespan
Collaboration will analyze family history and genetics to facilitate development of cutting-edge therapeutics.
Study Shows Promise of Precision Medicine for Most Common Type of Lymphoma
The study appeared online July 20, 2015, in Nature Medicine.
SELECTBIO

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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,600+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!