About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Neurons, Brain Cancer Cells Need the Same Little-known Protein for Long-term Survival

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on July 16, 2014 at 7:07 PM
Font : A-A+

 Neurons, Brain Cancer Cells Need the Same Little-known Protein for Long-term Survival

A protein PARC/CUL9 helps neurons and brain cancer cells override the biochemical mechanisms that cause cell death in other cells, researchers have found. In neurons, long-term survival allows for proper brain function as we age. In brain cancer cells, though, long-term survival contributes to tumor growth and the spread of the disease.

These results, published in the journal Science Signaling, not only identify a previously unknown mechanism used by neurons for their much-needed survival, but show that brain cancer cells hijack the same mechanism for their own survival.

Advertisement

The discovery will lead to new investigations of brain cancer treatments and provides insight into Parkinson's disease, including a potential new research tool for scientists.

"PARC is very similar to Parkin, a protein that's mutated in Parkinson's disease," said Mohanish Deshmukh, a professor of cell biology and physiology and senior author of the Science Signaling paper. "We think they might work in tandem to protect neurons."
Advertisement

If so, researchers can investigate the interplay between these proteins to create better drugs to treat the second-most prevalent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease.

Vivian Gama, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Deshmukh's lab, led the experiments in cell cultures and animal models. First, she used external stimuli to promote the damage of mitochondria - the energy sources for cells. In most cell types, when mitochondria are damaged, they release a protein called cytochrome c, which triggers a cascade of biochemical steps that end in cell death - a process known as apoptosis.

Working with neurons, though, Gama found that the protein PARC/CUL9 blocked this process; it degraded cytochrome c, halted apoptosis, and allowed for long-term cell survival. "In this setting, we want PARC to do that because we want neurons to survive as long as possible," said Gama, first author of the Science Signaling paper.

Deshmukh, a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said, "In Parkinson's disease, we know that Parkin targets damaged mitochondria for degradation. However, exactly what happens to the proteins, such as cytochrome c, that are released from the damaged mitochondria has been unknown. Now, we think PARC plays a role in this process."

Deshmukh and Gama's work could lead to an alternative way to study Parkinson's disease. Other researchers have created mouse models that lack the Parkin gene, but Gama said these models don't have many of the hallmark symptoms that human patients have, making the model less than desirable for researchers. "Our hypothesis is that in the absence of Parkin, PARC still does the job," Gama said, "as it may allow cells to survive."

Gama and Deshmukh are now creating a model that lacks both the Parkin and PARC genes.

They will also investigate PARC as a target for cancer treatment.

"We tested several cancer cell lines and found that PARC degrades cytochrome c in medulloblastoma, a cancer of the central nervous system and in neuroblastoma, a cancer of the peripheral nervous system," Gama said. "Not all cytochrome c is degraded; there are likely other factors involved. But PARC is an important player."

When Gama and colleagues triggered the apoptotic process in brain cancer cells, they found that PARC allowed the cells to survive. When PARC was inhibited, the cells were more vulnerable to stress and damage, which means they could be more vulnerable to compounds aimed at destroying them.

Deshmukh said, "We show that brain cancer cells co-opt PARC to bypass apoptosis in the same way that neurons do and for the exact same purpose."



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn
Contraceptive Pills in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Curtail Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Mushroom May Help Cut Down the Odds of Developing Depression
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Parkinsons Disease Cancer and Homeopathy Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Colorectal Cancer Cancer Facts Cancer Tattoos A Body Art Brain Brain Facts Ataxia 

Recommended Reading
RTMS and TDCS can Regulate and Protect the Activities of Cerebral Motor Cortex Neurons
After injury, death or apoptosis of central nervous system neurons occur, spasticity is considered ....
Neurons Stay Intact While Components are Constantly Replaced
Replacing a new spark plug in your car requires you to take it to a shop where it waits until the .....
Ataxia
Ataxia affects coordination. Gait becomes unstable and the patient loses balance. The cerebellum or ...
Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Colorectal cancer is the third...
Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by progressive dopamine brain cells loss. ...
Tattoos A Body Art
Tattoos are a rage among college students who sport it for the ‘cool dude’ or ‘cool babe’ look...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use