Study finds that enzymes 'partner up' to accelerate cancer, aging diseases
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IMAGE: This is Matthew Bochman. view more 

Credit: Zach Donnell

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A new study from molecular biologists at Indiana University has identified cellular processes that appear to supercharge both the growth and shrinkage of the chemical “caps” on chromosomes associated with aging, called telomeres.

The work, focused on two enzymes in yeast, could lead to new insights on stopping runaway cellular growth in cancer tumors, as well as the treatment of premature aging disorders such as progeria (aka “Benjamin Button disease”). The research is reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“This work confirms that two specific enzymes — called helicases — are involved in telomere maintenance, and demonstrates they’re even stronger in combination,” said Matthew Bochman, an associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, who is senior author on the study. “This is significant since dysfunction in telomere maintenance has been found in 100 percent of cancers. Literally, 100 percent. So, it’s very likely they play a role in the disease.”

Helicases are enzymes that unwind double-stranded DNA into a single stand for the purposes of replication, recombination and repair. In humans, the RecQ4 helicase functions

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