Scientists uncover novel mechanism of glioblastoma development

January 18, 2012

Most research on glioblastoma development, a complicated tumor of the brain with a poor prognosis, has focused on the gene transcription level, but scientists suggest that post-transcriptional regulation could be equally or even more important.

In a recent report in Molecular Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, scientists led by Luiz O. F. Penalva, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of cellular and at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, illustrated that the connection between two RNA-binding proteins, Musashi1 and HuR, can have important consequences to glioblastoma.

"This is a novel finding in terms of what we know about glioblastoma development," said Penalva. "Most of what we know about glioblastoma is limited to gene transcription-level research, but there are other regulatory processes beyond transcription that when disrupted could contribute to tumor formation."

RNA-binding proteins are key regulators in all cellular processes from splicing to translation. Changes that affect either their function or can have dramatic consequences to and can lead to disease states including cancer.

In the lab, Penalva and his colleagues showed that increased levels of HuR up-regulate the expression of another RNA-binding protein, Musashi1. Both proteins control the expression of cancer-related genes; their interaction brings together two important gene networks with major consequences to glioblastoma development.

The results are still early, but Penalva stressed that little is known about glioblastoma development and the findings represent a move toward greater understanding.

"To treat cancer, you have to understand what triggers ," said Penalva. "If we continue to think that all the activity is at the transcription level, we are just fooling ourselves. Clearly, something is going on beyond that level."

Explore further: What causes brain cancer? Understanding glioblastoma at the genetic, molecular level

Related Stories

Small molecules shed light on cancer therapies

August 22, 2011

Patients suffering from an aggressive brain cancer will benefit from the results of a University of Illinois study that could advance the development of targeted gene therapies and improve prognosis.

Recommended for you

Forecasting the path of breast cancer in a patient

November 23, 2015

USC researchers have developed a mathematical model to forecast metastatic breast cancer survival rates using techniques usually reserved for weather prediction, financial forecasting and surfing the Web.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.