Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
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

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
Researchers Identify Process that Causes Chronic Neonatal Lung Disease
Study determines how the NLRP3 inflammasome activates the protein Interleukin 1 beta.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Researchers Find a Small Protein that Plays a Big Role in Heart Muscle Contraction
New protein, DWORF, stimulates a calcium-ion pump that controls muscle contraction.
Friday, January 15, 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
UTSW-led Study Establishes Biomarkers to Help Diagnose, Treat Psychosis
In this study, the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes identified three neurobiologically distinct biotypes.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Enzyme Involved in Cell Division Also Plays a Role in Inflammation
NEK7 enzyme’s switch-like activity in immunity lead to new treatments for a variety of medical conditions linked to inflammation.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Research Finding Could Lead to Targeted Therapies for IBD
Findings published online in Cell Reports.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist Receives Breakthrough Prize
Dr. Helen H. Hobbs receives prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
CRI Identifies Emergency Blood-formation Response
Researchers report that when tissue damage occurs, an emergency blood-formation system activates.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Scientific News
Natural Protein Points to New Inflammation Treatment
Findings may offer insight to effective treatments for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.
Genetic Cause of Rare Allergy
Institute has identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibratory urticaria.
Battery Component Found to Harm Key Soil Microorganism
The material at the heart of the lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles, laptop computers and smartphones has been shown to impair a key soil bacterium, according to new research.
Keeping Tumor Growth at Bay
Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis found a way to keep a cancerous tumor from growing by using nanoparticles of the main ingredient in common antacid tablets.
Natural Protein Points to New Inflammation Treatment
Findings may offer insight to effective treatments for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.
Mitochondria Shown to Trigger Cell Ageing
An international team of scientists has for the first time shown that mitochondria, the batteries of the cells, are essential for ageing.
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Validating the Accuracy of CRISPR-Cas9
IBS Researchers create multiplex Digenome-seq to find errors in CRISPR-Cas9 processes.
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Genetic Mechanism Behind Cancer-Causing Mutations
Researchers at Indiana University has identified a genetic mechanism that is likely to drive mutations that can lead to cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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!