Identifying hundreds of new connections in a critical growth pathway

December 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

Understanding the checks and balances that govern when and how much cells grow is key to understanding cancer. A study published in November 2013 by the Gingras lab uncovers pieces of the complex mosaic of molecular interactions or signals that govern the normal growth of cells, tissue, and organs.

Within all animal cells an important series of switches causes them to stop growing once a tissue has attained the right size. “This system is called the Hippo pathway because deregulation of this system leads to overgrowth, a ‘hippopotamus’ phenotype. The Hippo pathway consists of proteins that interact with one another, sense other control systems within our cells, and send signals to stop the cell growth,” says Dr. Gingras.

“Our study identified 749 interactions between proteins and enzymes that play a role in telling a cell when to stop growing. Of these, 600 have not been previously recognized in the Hippo pathway,” she says.

“These findings are promising because, to date, there are no drugs directed at the components of the Hippo pathway,” adds Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. “Anne-Claude’s team’s work has added many new candidates for therapeutic intervention that may, for example, help in restricting the uncontrolled growth of tumour cells.”

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Entry filed under: Biotechnology News and Info from Canadian Universities. Tags: , .

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