Enzyme offers new therapeutic target for cancer drugs

June 21, 2012

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have uncovered a new signal transduction pathway specifically devoted to the regulation of alternative RNA splicing, a process that allows a single gene to produce or code multiple types of protein variants. The discovery, published in the June 27, 2012 issue of Molecular Cell, suggests the new pathway might be a fruitful target for new cancer drugs.

Signal transduction in the cell involves kinases and phosphatases, enzymes that transfer or remove phosphates in in a cascade or pathway. SRPK kinases, first described by Xiang-Dong Fu, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego in 1994, are involved in controlling the activities of splicing regulators in .

Prior studies have implicated SRPK1 in cancer and other human diseases. For example, it has been shown that SRPK1 plays a critical role in regulating the function of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor or VEGF, which stimulates in cancer. SRPK1 has been found to be dysregulated in a number of cancers, from kidney and breast to lung and pancreatic.

Conversely, studies suggest the absence of SRPK1 may be problematic as well, at least in terms of controlling some specific cancer phenotypes. Reduced SRPK1, for example, has been linked to drug resistance, a major problem in chemotherapy of cancer.

In their new paper, Fu and colleagues place SRPK1 in a major signal transduction pathway in the cell. "The kinase sits right in the middle of the PI3K-Akt pathway to specifically relay the growth signal to regulate alternative splicing in the nucleus," said Fu. "It's a new signaling branch that has previously escaped detection."

As such, the SRPK offers a new target for disease intervention and treatment, researchers say. "It's a good target because of its central role and because it can be manipulated with compounds that suppress its activity, which appears quite effective in suppressing blood vessel formation in cancer," Fu said.

Explore further: New molecular pathway regulating angiogenesis may fight retinal disease, cancers

Related Stories

New molecular pathway regulating angiogenesis may fight retinal disease, cancers

May 29, 2011
Scientists identify in the journal Nature a new molecular pathway used to suppress blood vessel branching in the developing retina – a finding with potential therapeutic value for fighting diseases of the retina and ...

Study reveals new details about a protein that enables cancer cells to start new tumors in distant sites

March 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study has revealed details of the complex molecular process involving a protein that enables cancer cells to establish tumors in distant parts of ...

Researchers identify a signaling pathway as possible target for cancer treatment

August 15, 2011
In a new study published in the August 16th issue of Developmental Cell, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center identified a molecular mechanism that guarantees that new blood vessels form in the right place and with the ...

Enzyme that flips switch on cells' sugar cravings could be anti-cancer target

December 22, 2011
Cancer cells tend to take up more glucose than healthy cells, and researchers are increasingly interested in exploiting this tendency with drugs that target cancer cells' altered metabolism.

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

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.