OCT 07, 2016 09:02 PM PDT

Some Cancer Cells Have Amyloids like Alzheimer's

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
3 8 638
Researchers have discovered that some proteins that have an influence on the progression and metastasis of cancer are stored away inside of dormant cancer cells, like amyloid bodies that are seen in some neurological disorders. When the amyloid bodies break up, the cell wakes up and is active again. Investigators at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have published these findings in Developmental Cell.
 
This is a high magnification of a nucleus with amyloid plaques (red: congo red staining). / Credit: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
 
Amyloid bodies are groups of proteins that form into aggregates of fine fibers that coalesce as sheets. Amyloids are known to play a part in the development of several neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Their exact role is still unknown, however. This work may indicate a new avenue for the development of therapeutics for some kinds of cancer.
 
"The amyloid state of protein organization is typically associated with debilitating human neuropathies and rarely observed in physiology," said the corresponding author of the study, Stephen Lee, the Director of the Tumor Biology Program at Sylvester, and a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Miller School. "Yet, we found that a large number of proteins are stored as amyloid bodies in cancer cells that are dormant. The heat shock chaperone pathway can disaggregate the amyloid bodies and turn the dormant cancer cells into active, progressing cancer cells."
 
This is an electron microscopy of a cellular amyloid plaque. / Credit: Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
 
Long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are a relatively new class of regulatory molecule with poorly understood functions. The researchers determined that lincRNA regulates the formation of amyloids in cancer cells, and as such it’s a prime target for drug development.
 
"If we can stop the amyloid bodies from disaggregating in cancer cells, the hope is that they will remain dormant indefinitely," explained Lee. "In addition, we may also be able to turn active cancer cells into dormant ones by encouraging them to store the proteins as amyloid bodies."
 
The creation of amyloids allows cells to survive during prolonged periods of extracellular stress, suggesting there is amyloids have a protective function; they may not always be toxic to cells, and that is not restricted to cancer cells.
 
"Following this approach, we wouldn't necessarily rid the body of cancer cells, but we would keep them inactive - shut off, if you will - and not allow them to become active again," said Lee. "I am optimistic this could become a novel way of treating cancer. There are already drugs on the market, and others are being studied, that target the ribosomal intergenic noncoding RNA as well as the heat shock chaperone pathway."
 
For more information on long non-coding RNAs, watch the video below from Genetics Professor Ahmad Khalil.
 
 

Sources: Eurekalert!/AAAS, via University of Miami, Developmental Cell
 
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUN 12, 2018
Immunology
JUN 12, 2018
Auto-antibody Detection for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
No case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease, is the same. Now, researchers want RA diagnostic approaches to match its pathological diversit
JUN 22, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUN 22, 2018
New Type of Photosynthesis is Discovered
This work will change textbooks, and may impact a variety of fields, including the search for extraterrestrial life.
JUL 01, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 01, 2018
Endocrine Disruptors Have an Epigenetic Effect
EDCs act similarly to hormones that we naturally produce, and are found in many household products.
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
The Transition to Multicellular Life May Have Been Simple
It may have been relatively easy for complex organisms to form from one-celled microbes, researchers suggest.
JUL 30, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUL 30, 2018
A Complete View of the Fly Brain at Nanoscale Resolution
Researchers have completed a massive project to create a high-resolution map of the adult fruit fly brain.
AUG 01, 2018
Videos
AUG 01, 2018
Award-winning Images of Organoids From the Koch Institute
Every year, the Koch Institute at MIT shares some of the most stunning images produced at the research facility.
Loading Comments...