Australian scientists have found a novel way to inactivate a molecule called Gab2, a key player in the molecular processes that trigger breast cancer and certain forms of leukaemia.
Professor Roger Daly, a researcher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, points out that this molecule operates downstream of a major breast cancer oncogene, HER2, the target of the drug Herceptin.
He says that blocking signals to and from Gab2 may prevent it from fulfilling its role in cell proliferation.
"We've identified a completely novel mechanism for switching off Gab2. This uses another molecule that attaches to Gab2 and acts as a kind of shield, preventing it from transmitting further proliferative signals. This binding partner, or 'off switch', is called 14-3-3, and is used to disable Gab2 in a number of cellular settings, when it is no longer needed," he added.
Reporting the research team's findings online in the EMBO Journal, Prof. Daly said: "As Gab2 plays key roles in signalling systems that underpin both normal physiological responses and oncogenesis, it's very important to understand its control mechanisms."
He added: "Our next step will be to obtain more structural information about how 14-3-3 shields Gab2. Once we know that, it should be possible to design drugs to combat Gab2-activated diseases in novel ways."