By isolating the enzymes responsible for recycling a dangerous protein, Princeton's Yibin Kang (photo), PhD, has identified a promising new target for cancer treatments. "Do not erase." "Recycle me." "Free to a good home." Humans post these signs to indicate whether something has value or not, whether it should be disposed of or not. Inside our cells, a sophisticated recycling system uses its own enzymatic signs to flag certain cells for destruction -- and a different set of enzymes can remove those flags. Changing the balance between those two groups might provide a way to control a dangerous protein called SNAI2 that helps cancers metastasize, said Dr. Kang, Princeton University's Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology, who has spent his career studying the cells and molecules behind metastatic cancers. His team has a pair of papers coming out in next month's issue of Genes & Development, released online on Septemer 17, 2020. The key is the cell's recycling system. In 2004, the Nobel Prize (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2004/summary/) was awarded to the three scientists who discovered that the body will shred proteins into tiny pieces after they are tagged with a "recycle me" sign (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2004/popular-information/) by a molecule called "ubiquitin." Some scientists refer to ubiquitin as the "kiss of death," because once a protein has enough ubiquitin tags, that protein is headed on a one-way trip to the shredder -- unless another enzyme comes along to remove its "recycle me" sign.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story