Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China have identified an enzyme that helps cancer cells make the building materials they need to quickly proliferate. Inhibiting this enzyme could be a strategy to slow down cancer growth, leading to more effective treatments. The study was published in the April 27 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Whereas healthy human cells get most of the fatty acids and cholesterol they need to build their cell membranes from the bloodstream, cancer cells cannot wait for their building materials to be delivered by this route. Instead, cancer cells frequently ramp up the activity of the enzymes involved in synthesizing lipids right in the cell.
One of these families of enzymes is the sterol regulatory element binding proteins, or SREBPs. SREBPs travel into cell nuclei and turn on genes involved in lipid production, usually in response to specific signals. In some cancer cell lines, including certain liver, colon and breast cancers, a particular SREBP called SREBP1a is overactive.
Fajun Yang, an associate professor of developmental and molecular biology at Albert Einstein, studies exactly how cancer cells supply themselves with lipids. The newly published
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