Researchers identify new protein linked to leukaemia growth

May 16, 2014 by Alison Barbuti
Researchers identify new protein linked to leukaemia growth
Scientists have discovered a molecule that plays a key role in leukaemia.

(Medical Xpress)—Their work has identified a protein called PIP4K2A that could be a new target in drug development.

Uncontrolled growth of is one of the hallmarks of cancer. In acute myeloid leukaemia, abnormal accumulate in the bone marrow, blocking production of normal red and white blood cells.

All blood cells are derived from so-called haematopoietic stem cells, but there are certain molecules – phosphoinositides – that appear to control potential conversion of these stem cells into cancerous leukaemic cells. Some of these phosphoinositides switch on specific cell signalling pathways, resulting in rapid growth and enhanced survival.

Regulation of these phosphoinositides (PIs) is carried out by a variety of proteins – known as PI modulators. Now researchers based at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute at The University of Manchester – part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre – have explored the role of a variety of these genes to see which PI modulators have a key role in leukaemia.

Dr Tim Somervaille, who led the research, said: "Little is known about the role of PI modulators in leukaemia. We wanted to find out which ones were responsible for cell growth or survival in acute myeloid leukaemia."

The group looked at human cells and switched off individual genes in a process known as targeted knockdown.

They found that one PI modulator, a protein known as PIP4K2A, was essential for the growth of leukaemia cells – both those grown in the lab and those from patient samples. When this protein was switched off, the leukaemia cells died.

"Developing new treatments for cancer is based on a better understanding of what makes grow and thrive so that we can deprive them of something essential for their survival. Importantly, in , knockdown of the PIP4K2A protein had no adverse effect – this makes it an ideal target for future in leukaemia," added Dr Somervaille.

Explore further: A molecular target may lead to drug to fight leukaemia

Related Stories

A molecular target may lead to drug to fight leukaemia

May 7, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A molecular 'target' that could lead to a drug to fight leukaemia is in the sights of a team of University of Queensland researchers.

Protein that takes care of our DNA is critical to leukaemia cell survival

April 5, 2013
A protein – already known to be involved in a cell's response to stress – called Tetratricopeptide repeat domain 5 (TTC5) is critical to the development of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), according to a new Cancer Research ...

Scientists find new drug target for hard-to-treat leukaemia

March 30, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered a promising new approach to treat a type of myeloid leukaemia – a cancer with limited treatment options and relatively poor survival, according to research ...

Immune cells regulate blood stem cells

February 21, 2014
Researchers in Bern, Germany, have discovered that, during a viral infection, immune cells control the blood stem cells in the bone marrow and therefore also the body's own defences. The findings could allow for new forms ...

What makes some cancers more deadly?

April 23, 2014
A Flinders University researcher is searching for answers as to why some leukaemia sufferers live a normal lifespan while others succumb to the disease within months.

Genetic tracking identifies cancer stem cells in human patients

May 15, 2014
The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells. The international research team, led by scientists at the University ...

Recommended for you

Could a green sponge hold cancer-fighting secrets?

July 27, 2017
A small green sponge discovered in dark, icy waters of the Pacific off Alaska could be the first effective weapon against pancreatic cancer, researchers said on Wednesday.

Stem cell therapy attacks cancer by targeting unique tissue stiffness

July 26, 2017
A stem cell-based method created by University of California, Irvine scientists can selectively target and kill cancerous tissue while preventing some of the toxic side effects of chemotherapy by treating the disease in a ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

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.