Tweaking cells' gatekeepers could lead to new way to fight cancer
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IMAGE: Cells with the Tpr protein (top row) have fewer nuclear pores than cells without the protein (bottom row). The right column shows a close-up of the pore density, with many… view more 

Credit: Salk Institute

LA JOLLA–(September 18, 2018) If the cell nucleus is like a bank for DNA, nuclear pores are the security doors around its perimeter. Yet more security doors aren’t necessarily better: some cancer cells contain a dramatic excess of nuclear pores.

Salk Institute researchers reported on September 18, 2018, in the journal Genes & Development that they have devised a way to manipulate numbers of individual nuclear pores–a breakthrough that may one day stop cancerous cells from proliferating out of control.

“Previously, we didn’t have the tools to artificially increase nuclear pores,” says lead author Martin Hetzer, who is also Salk’s vice president and chief science officer. “Our study provides an experimental avenue to ask critical questions: What are the consequences of boosting the number of nuclear pores in a healthy cell to mimic those found in a cancer cell? Does this affect gene activity? Why do cancer cells increase the number of nuclear pores?”

Nuclear pores are essential elements of all cells that

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