Saturday, December 10, 2005

Excess cell signaling and cancer

Global Signaling Study Suggests Cancer Link To Protein Promiscuity

When found at abnormally high concentrations, two proteins implicated in many human cancers have the potential to spur indiscriminate biochemical signaling inside cells, chemists at Harvard University have found. Their finding may expand scientists' current understanding of oncogenesis -- that cancer arises when an oncoprotein becomes overactive, ramping up the biochemical pathways that it normally activates -- suggesting that an important additional mechanism could be the inappropriate activation of numerous secondary pathways.

"Our data offer a new way to think about cancer, adding to the current paradigm," says Gavin MacBeath, an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and co-author of a paper published in the journal Nature. "We present the hypothesis that an important component of oncogenesis is the ability of proteins to turn on alternative, secondary signaling pathways when overexpressed, rather than simply upregulating primary pathways."


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