While the human genome has already been sequenced, researchers have faced a problem when it comes to learning just how genes work as most of them have not been isolated. Now, however, boffins have been able to clone cancer associated genes called protein kinases.
Protein kinases, regulate most of the signalling events in cells by phosphorylating and modulating the activity of other proteins. Researchers have used systematic gene sequencing efforts to estimate that up to a quarter of kinases may play a role in human cancers.
Research teams led by Professor Jussi Taipale from the National Public Health Institute and University of Helsinki, Finland have reported the cloning of nearly all predicted human protein kinase genes in functional form, and generation of a corresponding set of kinases lacking catalytic activity that are necessary for functional studies.
The scientists further used the kinome collection in several high-throughput screens, including a screen which identified two novel kinases regulating the Hedgehog signaling pathway - a key pathway linked to multiple types of human cancer.
Besides, they also identified a novel kinase required for activation of Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus.
"The isolated kinase genes form a resource that scientist can now use to systematically map kinase signaling networks in different cellular disease models. The kinases are also promising targets for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of various cancers", said Professor Taipale.
The study is published in the latest issue of Cell.