Ancient Protein Dysfunction Linked To Tumor Development

On studying about the yeast used in the making of beer and bread, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have disclosed the mechanism of ancient proteins in DNA repair and how their impairment could end up in tumor development.

The findings of this study were published in the online journal “Nature Communications” and could result in newer and better approaches to cancer treatment.

A senior investigator Kara Bernstein, PhD. , assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the Pitt School of Medicine and  University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, also a partner with UPMC Cancer Center states that, “In humans, the mutations of a protein called RAD51 paralogues are linked with breast and ovarian tumors.”

“These proteins have been present throughout the evolution of various species but not much is known about their role.”- Kara Bernstein

Mechanism of DNA repair

Because it is quite difficult to work on RAD51 paralogues in animals,  the team of researchers have instead studied their function in yeast . In the study they discovered that  RAD51 proteins interact with another group of proteins called Shu complex for the repair of breaks in the DNA caused by radiation, environmental  toxins and other natural exposures.

The researchers have also uncovered that Shu complex have synergistic effect with  additional RAD51 paralogues in searching  for homologous, or complementary,  regions in the DNA with double stranded breaks, in which there is a break in both the poles of the twisted DNA ladder. There is a possibility of the loss of pieces of  genetic code in these broken areas;  the paralogues and complex result in damage repair by filling up these missing pieces in a process known as homologous recombination.

“Now after having the understanding of protein mechanism, the treatment options for cancer patients having mutations in the repaired genes can be tailored accordingly” – Dr-Bernstein


Protein dysfunction and tumor development. July 28, 2015