Keeping up with demand for red blood cells

July 16, 2012, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

(Medical Xpress) -- Two cellular proteins team up to provide a steady supply of red blood cells (RBCs), according to a study by Lizhao Wu, PhD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, and colleagues. The findings have been published in the journal Blood.

RBCs express , which carries essential to the body’s tissues and organs. When RBCs are in short supply or are destroyed in large numbers, anemia ensues. Researchers have previously shown that an anti-cancer protein called retinoblastoma (Rb) is essential for the efficient differentiation of new RBCs, as its absence results in mild anemia.

Prior research has shown that many of Rb’s functions rely on its binding to a family of proteins called E2F transcription factors, which either activate or repress gene expression. Wu and colleagues demonstrate for the first time that Rb can also functionally interact with E2F family members (i.e., E2F6, E2F7, E2F8) that lack the Rb-binding domain, suggesting a novel mechanism of Rb as an anti-cancer protein by its functional (rather than physical) interaction with non-Rb-binding E2Fs.

For this study, investigators focused on whether this mechanism would permit E2F8 to be a potential catalyst for RBC production when combined with Rb, and they found that mice whose RBC precursor cells lacked both Rb and E2F8 developed severe anemia, despite substantially increased production of erythropoietin, a protein that drives early RBC differentiation. The anemia was attributed to a profound defect in the late stages of RBC differentiation and the destruction of mature RBCs.

Exactly how these proteins prompt the generation of is not yet clear, but they most likely co-repress common genes that are critical for RBC terminal maturation. This study may help identify new strategies to treat anemia, particularly in patients who fail to respond to erythropoietin.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey’s only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey’s only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the state.

Explore further: Researchers find potential target for treating metastatic cancer

More information: bloodjournal.hematologylibrary … 119/19/4532.abstract

Related Stories

Researchers find potential target for treating metastatic cancer

December 13, 2011
Finding ways to counteract or disrupt the invasive nature of cancer cells, called "metastasis," has been a long-term goal of cancer researchers. Now, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., have identified an ...

Cancer risk up in bilateral retinoblastoma survivors

February 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- For survivors of bilateral retinoblastoma (Rb), family history is associated with an increased risk of second cancers (SCs), especially melanoma, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in the Journal ...

Recommended for you

New inflammation inhibitor discovered

November 16, 2018
A multidisciplinary team of researchers led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed an anti-inflammatory drug molecule with a new mechanism of action. By inhibiting a certain protein, the researchers were able ...

Gut hormone and brown fat interact to tell the brain it's time to stop eating

November 15, 2018
Researchers from Germany and Finland have shown that so-called "brown fat" interacts with the gut hormone secretin in mice to relay nutritional signals about fullness to the brain during a meal. The study, appearing November ...

Brain, muscle cells found lurking in kidney organoids grown in lab

November 15, 2018
Scientists hoping to develop better treatments for kidney disease have turned their attention to growing clusters of kidney cells in the lab. One day, so-called organoids—grown from human stem cells—may help repair damaged ...

How the Tasmanian devil inspired researchers to create 'safe cell' therapies

November 15, 2018
A contagious facial cancer that has ravaged Tasmanian devils in southern Australia isn't the first place one would look to find the key to advancing cell therapies in humans.

Researchers discover important connection between cells in the liver

November 15, 2018
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have made a discovery which could lead to a new way of thinking about how disease pathogenesis in the liver is regulated, which is important for understanding the condition ...

Precision neuroengineering enables reproduction of complex brain-like functions in vitro

November 14, 2018
One of the most important and surprising traits of the brain is its ability to dynamically reconfigure the connections to process and respond properly to stimuli. Researchers from Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) and the ...

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.