Medindia

X

A Story Unfolding: Prions And Cancer

by Rukmani Krishna on  June 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM Cancer News   - G J E 4
Prions are very unique infectious particles. They are the causal agents of Mad Cow and other diseases. They are proteins in which the complex molecular three-dimensional folding process just went astray. The misfolding nature of prions is associated to their ability to sequester their normal counterparts and induce them to also adopt a misfolding conformation. The ever-growing crowd of misfolded proteins form the aggregates seen in diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. A protein can no longer exert its normal functions in the cell, once misfolded.
 A Story Unfolding: Prions And Cancer
A Story Unfolding: Prions And Cancer
Advertisement

Now, a group led by Dr Jerson Lima Silva at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, presents some new evidence that p53, a protein with the daunting task of suppressing tumor formation in the body, may show a typical prion-like behavior when mutated.

Advertisement
It has been known for some time that the buildup of p53 in the cell impairs the protein in preventing tumor growth. This has been observed in neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, breast, and colon cancers. In a paper entitled "Mutant p53 aggregates into prion-like amyloid oligomers and fibrils: Implications for cancer" and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the group shows that in breast cancer cell lines carrying the most common p53 mutation, the formation of amyloid-like aggregates of p53 proteins may explain the protein's lack of function.

Whether this prionoid behavior in fact represents a relevant cancer-related mechanism remains to be shown. Development of novel and ingenious strategies to prevent p53 misfolding and aggregation may be just one way to find out.

"We are planning pre-clinical tests with synthesized nucleic acids in an attempt to prevent the changing in conformation of normal p53, and avoid aggregates of misfolded protein," says Dr. Silva.

If successful, the strategy may help unveil unforeseen molecular mechanisms leading to tumor development. Considering that more than half of the cancers lose p53 function, this prionoid behavior may serve as a potential novel target for cancer therapy, dramatically transforming our way of thinking of cancer and treating cancer patients.

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All