New function of a protein involved in colon cancer is identified

October 4, 2012, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute

Researchers from IMIM, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, have succeeded in determining the function of a new variant of enzyme IKKalpha (IKKα) to activate some of the genes taking part in the tumor progressions of colorectal cancer. In the future, this fact will make it possible to design new drugs that inhibit this enzyme specifically and are less toxic for the remaining body cells, hence improving the treatment for this disease.

The study is the culmination of previous research by the IMIM Research Group on and Cancer that had proven the existence of a link between the activation of the IKKα enzyme and occurrence of colorectal cancer in humans. "We studied the particularities that distinguish the pre-tumor activity of IKKα from its normal physiological activities, which are known to be essential for the survival of non- and can therefore not be pharmacologically inhibited without causing great harm to the body" explains Dr. Lluís Espinosa, a member of the group and the director of this study.

IKKα is a specific type of enzyme, known as kinase. These enzymes are proteins that act on other proteins adding to them a and thus modifying their function. The p45-IKKα, which we identified, is located in the nucleus of cancer cells and their action is essential for the progression of the tumor. Lluís Espinosa adds: "The most important novelty of our findings is the identification of a new form of the IKKα kinase, which is mainly involved in activating genes that take part in the , and that differs from the main activity of this kinase in normal cells".

For this research a total of 288 human samples of colorectal cancer were analyzed, identifying the presence of p45-IKKα in most of them and proving that specifically blocking this new form of IKKα avoids the growth of this particular .

The results of this work open the door to multiple research lines aiming to discover the mechanisms that generate and activate this p45-IKKα enzyme, and identifying possible inhibitors that are more effective against tumor cells, that are less toxic for the remaining body cells. However, it is important to note that while these results represent an important advance towards understanding the mechanisms of tumor progression, further research will be needed before considering future therapeutic applications of this type of drugs in patients with colorectal cancer.

Explore further: Researchers discover protein that could help prevent the spread of cancer

More information: "A novel truncated form of IKK is responsible for specific nuclear IKKα activity in Colorectal Cancer". Pol Margalef, Vanessa Fernández-Majada, Alberto Villanueva, Ricard Garcia Carbonell, Mar Iglesias, Laura López, María Martínez-Iniesta, Jordi Villà-Freixa, Mari Carmen Mulero, Montserrat Andreu, Ferran Torres, Marty W Mayo, Anna Bigas, Lluis Espinosa, Cell Reports.

Related Stories

Researchers discover protein that could help prevent the spread of cancer

May 4, 2011
A protein capable of halting the spread of breast cancer cells could lead to a therapy for preventing or limiting the spread of the disease.

A new indicator for breast cancer relapse identified

June 19, 2012
Researchers at the IMIM (Institut de Recerca Hospital del Mar) have proven that the absence of the 14-3-3 protein sigma in breast cancer cells is directly associated with these cells' capacity to activate the signalling of ...

Ovarian cancer cells hijack surrounding tissues to enhance tumor growth

September 4, 2012
Tumor growth is dependent on interactions between cancer cells and adjacent normal tissue, or stroma. Stromal cells can stimulate the growth of tumor cells; however it is unclear if tumor cells can influence the stroma.

Do you want to know another role of ribonucleotide reductase M2?

September 18, 2012
Ribonucleotide reductase (RR) is a target metabolic enzymes for cancer therapy. Few studies have described the correlation between RRM2 and the development of colorectal cancer. And the possible mechanism by which RRM2 mediates ...

Recommended for you

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

New immunotherapy approach boosts body's ability to destroy cancer cells

January 12, 2018
Few cancer treatments are generating more excitement these days than immunotherapy—drugs based on the principle that the immune system can be harnessed to detect and kill cancer cells, much in the same way that it goes ...

Cancer's gene-determined 'immune landscape' dictates progression of prostate tumors

January 12, 2018
The field of immunotherapy - the harnessing of patients' own immune systems to fend off cancer - is revolutionizing cancer treatment today. However, clinical trials often show marked improvements in only small subsets of ...

FDA approves first drug for tumors tied to breast cancer genes

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first drug aimed at treating metastatic breast cancers linked to the BRCA gene mutation.

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.