Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that findings from its study identifying the role of an E3 ubiquitin ligase known as UHRF1 in the regulation of cellular proliferation and cellular repair was published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, the journal of the American Society for Cell Biology.
Scientists at Rigel, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, isolated UHRF1 from a functional genomics screen designed to identify genes that interfere with proliferation.
They found that UHRF1 expression is elevated in proliferating cells and primary tumors.
The scientists further found that interference with UHRF1 ubiquitin ligase function rendered cells sensitive to the effects of chemotherapeutics, identifying a role for UHRF1 ligase activity in cellular survival.
"We are particularly interested in the selective inhibition of ubiquitin ligases, since it could lead to pharmaceutical product candidates with higher specificity and lower toxicity for cancer patients," said Donald G. Payan, M.D., executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Rigel.
"The targeting of intracellular protein degradation pathways has become an especially attractive therapeutic strategy due to the success of proteasome inhibitors in the treatment of multiple myeloma."
This study is part of a five-year collaboration between Rigel and Johnson & Johnson that began in December 1998.