Researchers identify a crucial protein that commands a key communications hub determining cell growth

January 3, 2018, National University of Singapore
Researchers identify a crucial protein that commands a key communications hub determining cell growth
A cell image showing the precise compartment called endosome (some are shown in arrows) where BPGAP1 interacts with its partner proteins to execute growth signaling. Credit: National University of Singapore

National University of Singapore biologists have identified a crucial protein that commands a key communications hub which determines cell growth.

Various proteins control key physiological functions when their activities are properly regulated. However, the same set of proteins could lead to undesirable outcomes if their amounts are at abnormal levels or their cell-to-cell communications are short-circuited. Two cell signalling pathways, the RAS/MEK and JNK pathways (named after distinct proteins that play crucial roles in controlling cell growth and cell death, respectively) are well-known to influence the way grow, divide or even commit suicide. Although various studies have shown that these two pathways can work in parallel or together to control cell fates, it is not clear how they influence or work with each other to promote cell proliferation, which can sometimes prime cells towards uncontrolled growth in cancers.

A team of researchers led by Prof Boon Chuan LOW from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS has identified BPGAP1 as the key scaffold protein that is responsible for linking these two major signalling pathways together. This protein acts like a switch controlling the genetic programming for . When this is functioning properly, the two pathways can communicate with each other to maintain a balance in cell numbers. If it malfunctions, it could lead to uncontrolled growth of cells, causing cancer development. The team has also established the crucial steps involved in this precise activation mechanism at the cellular and molecular levels.

"The abnormal activation of certain proteins (epidermal growth factor receptor, RAS, MEK and JNK) are known to be associated with different ways of causing cancers. The identification of BPGAP1 represents a new one-stop hub that controls these activities. This opens the way for developing potential new therapeutics that could prevent tumour ," said Prof Low, who is also a Senior Principal Investigator at the Mechanobiology Institute, NUS.

The group plans to further delineate the precise sites and structure of the interaction between BPGAP1 and the JNK and MEK proteins, so as to pinpoint the most desirable sites on the molecule for the development of anti-cancer therapeutics.

Explore further: Disrupting cell signals may lead to new cancer treatments

More information: T Jiang et al. BPGAP1 spatially integrates JNK/ERK signaling crosstalk in oncogenesis, Oncogene (2017). DOI: 10.1038/onc.2016.466

Related Stories

Disrupting cell signals may lead to new cancer treatments

April 29, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists have taken a major step towards developing new treatments for certain cancers by disrupting the internal cellular signals that lead to the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells.

Mechanobiology provides insight into disease and healing processes

March 19, 2015
Researchers in Singapore are gaining further insight into how the mechanical environment of cells drives fundamental cellular processes such as motility, growth and survival. These processes are integral to many clinical ...

New approaches to cell study contributes to cancer research

September 12, 2014
At Ryerson, some of our top researchers are committed to finding out how cells function, and to building our knowledge of the basic science of cellular function while investigating diseases and the potential for new therapies ...

Plant flavonoid luteolin blocks cell signaling pathways in colon cancer cells

January 23, 2012
Plant flavonoid luteolin blocks cell signaling pathways in colon cancer cells

Finding new cancer drugs in the neighborhood

January 24, 2017
Cancer is caused by an accumulation of genetic changes in a cell, that overcome the normal checks and balances leading to uncontrolled growth. A complex, interacting network of proteins controls all of a cell's processes, ...

Recommended for you

Colon cancer is caused by bacteria and cell stress

September 19, 2018
Researchers at Technical University Munich have reported findings related to the development of colon cancer. "We originally wanted to study the role of bacteria in the intestines in the development of intestinal inflammation," ...

Researchers find adult stem cell characteristics in aggressive cancers from different tissues

September 19, 2018
UCLA researchers have discovered genetic similarities between the adult stem cells responsible for maintaining and repairing epithelial tissues—which line all of the organs and cavities inside the body—and the cells that ...

Ketogenic diet reduces body fat in women with ovarian or endometrial cancer

September 19, 2018
Women with ovarian or endometrial cancer who followed the ketogenic diet for 12 weeks lost more body fat and had lower insulin levels compared to those who followed the low-fat diet recommended by the American Cancer Society, ...

Eating foods with low nutritional quality ratings linked to cancer risk in large European cohort

September 18, 2018
The consumption of foods with higher scores on the British Food Standards Agency nutrient profiling system (FSAm-NPS), reflecting a lower nutritional quality, is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, according ...

Could the zika virus fight the brain cancer that killed john McCain?

September 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Preliminary research in mice suggests that the Zika virus might be turned from foe into friend—enlisted to curb deadly glioblastoma brain tumors.

CRISPR screen reveals new targets in more than half of all squamous cell carcinomas

September 18, 2018
A little p63 goes a long way in embryonic development—and flaws in p63 can result in birth defects like cleft palette, fused fingers or even missing limbs. But once this early work is done, p63 goes silent, sitting quietly ...


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.