In a new study, researchers have discovered a protein that could effectively melt tumors in days.
The protein can do this when it is genetically manipulated to impede it from interacting with a gene responsible for cancer genesis.
The researchers found the highly conserved, noodle-like protein MYC performs important functions in normal human development, and it often becomes reactivated in the deadliest and most difficult to treat cancers.
The research was conducted by a team at Vanderbilt.
MYC has been an elusive drug target for at least 30 years, and has been considered “undruggable” because of its lack of structure.
In the study, the team set out to identify MYC’s more structured partner proteins with the goal of engineering mutations that disrupt the partners’ interactions with MYC that cause cancer growth.
They have identified the protein Host Cell Factor-1 as a definite candidate for this type of therapeutic development.
HCF1 is touched by MYC and is important for stimulating protein synthesis. When a cancer cell with MYC is genetically engineered to no longer interact with HCF1, the cancer cell begins to self-destruct.
Developing a therapy that limits this interaction is a hugely promising step in cancer treatment.
This is the second protein discovered by the team that responds to MYC like this.
The team says protein MYC physically binds to DNA to activate genes. Protein transcription factors only need two domains: a DNA binding domain and an activation domain that spurs DNA to make RNA and proteins.
They intend to get a greater sense of how HCF1 works with MYC and how it affects other protein functions.
One author of the study is William Tansey, a professor of cell and developmental biology and biochemistry.
The study is published in eLife.
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