The novel mechanism of cancer formation discovered by Dr Polly Leilei Chen...
The novel mechanism of cancer formation discovered by Dr Polly Leilei Chen (right), Dr Song Yangyang (left) and their team could lead to more effective treatment

Image source: NUS

News • RNA editing

New mechanism of cancer formation discovered

A team of scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) led by Dr Polly Leilei Chen from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has discovered a previously unknown mechanism of cancer formation, the understanding of which may lead to more effective treatment.

Their findings concern a process called RNA editing. The DNA code of a gene gets transcribed into an intermediate code known as RNA, before being translated into a protein molecule that plays a particular role in the cell. Sometimes, the RNA gets modified, or edited, before the final translation, yielding a different protein product. RNA editing is a phenomenon that gives the cell finer control over its proteins.

Their findings were published in the Journal of Hepatology.

With this new knowledge, we can now look into how A-to-I RNA editing contributes to cancer by altering their protein sequences and how we can restore cancer-suppressing processes mediated by RNA editing in the cell

Polly Leilei Chen

The research team examined the RNA encoding a protein called “coatomer subunit α” (COPA), which influences the development of cancers of the liver, esophagus, stomach and breast, and examined whether RNA transcribed from the COPA gene was edited or altered in clinical samples of cancerous liver tissues. They discovered that any given cell contains a mix of both edited and unedited versions of COPA. When the unedited or “wild type” COPA is predominant, the cell is more likely to become cancerous. Conversely, when edited COPA is predominant, it is thought to suppress a convoluted molecular signalling network called the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling pathway. When this pathway gets out of control, it triggers excessive cell multiplication which can lead to cancer.

The researchers are now trying to find a way to boost the natural RNA editing mechanisms in the cancerous cell to tip the balance in favour of the edited version of COPA, thereby suppressing the cancer. “With this new knowledge, we can now look into how A-to-I RNA editing contributes to cancer by altering their protein sequences and how we can restore cancer-suppressing processes mediated by RNA editing in the cell,” said Dr Chen.


Source: National University of Singapore

16.01.2021

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

News • Encouraging results of DARS trial

A ‘new gold standard’ for head and neck cancer radiotherapy

New research suggests a new approach to precision radiotherapy can reduce the risk of swallowing problems for patients, without impacting the success of treatment.

Photo

News • Mysterious mechanism solved

Researchers discover how bowel cancer 'blinds' the immune system

A mystery which has stumped bowel cancer researchers for decades, has been solved by scientists at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and University of Glasgow.

Photo

News • Targeted therapy

Biliary duct cancer: the future of precision oncology

Gene alterations in biliary tract cancer offer potential targets for current or future precision therapies. This is demonstrated by a new study from Vienna.

Related products

Subscribe to Newsletter