Bacteria help discover human cancer-causing proteins
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IMAGE: This is Dr. Susan M. Rosenberg. view more 

Credit: Baylor College of Medicine

A team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas at Austin has applied an unconventional approach that used bacteria to discover human proteins that can lead to DNA damage and promote cancer. Reported in the journal Cell, the study also proposes biological mechanisms by which these proteins can cause damage to DNA, opening possibilities for future cancer treatments.

“Our cells make protein carcinogens,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Susan M. Rosenberg, Ben F. Love Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular and human genetics, of molecular virology and microbiology and of biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor. “Cancer is a disease of mutations. A normal cell that has accumulated several mutations in particular genes becomes likely to turn into a cancer cell.”

Mutations that cause cancer can be the result of DNA damage. External factors such as tobacco smoke and sunlight can damage DNA, but most DNA damage seems to result from events that occur within cells and is mediated by cellular components, including proteins. Despite the importance of these events, they have not been studied extensively.

“One way

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