New function of a protein involved in colon cancer is identified

October 4, 2012

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

Lung cancer treatment could be having negative health effect on hearts

September 25, 2017
Radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer could have a negative effect on the health of your heart new research has found.

MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer

September 25, 2017
A new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent being tested by researchers at Case Western Reserve University not only pinpoints breast cancers at early stages but differentiates between aggressive and slow-growing ...

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

September 22, 2017
Cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances ...

'Labyrinth' chip could help monitor aggressive cancer stem cells

September 21, 2017
Inspired by the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, a new chip etched with fluid channels sends blood samples through a hydrodynamic maze to separate out rare circulating cancer cells into a relatively clean stream for analysis. ...

Whole food diet may help prevent colon cancer, other chronic conditions

September 21, 2017
A diet that includes plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits may contain compounds that can stop colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases in pigs, according to an international team of researchers. Understanding how ...

Drug combination may improve impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer

September 21, 2017
Checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapy has been shown to be very effective in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer but only in a minority of patients. University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers ...

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.