Tweaking cells' gatekeepers could lead to new way to fight cancer

ScienceDaily | 9/18/2018 | Staff
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Salk Institute researchers reported on September 18, 2018, in the journal Genes & Development that they have devised a way to manipulate numbers of individual nuclear pores -- a breakthrough that may one day stop cancerous cells from proliferating out of control.

"Previously, we didn't have the tools to artificially increase nuclear pores," says lead author Martin Hetzer, who is also Salk's vice president and chief science officer. "Our study provides an experimental avenue to ask critical questions: What are the consequences of boosting the number of nuclear pores in a healthy cell to mimic those found in a cancer cell? Does this affect gene activity? Why do cancer cells increase the number of nuclear pores?"

Pores - Elements - Cells - Ways - Material

Nuclear pores are essential elements of all cells that provide controlled ways to move cellular material in and out of a nucleus. In organisms ranging from fungi to mammals, individual cells possess these transport channels that mediate a thousand events per second. Individual nuclear pores are fashioned from multiple copies of 30 proteins known as nucleoporins. Hetzer and colleagues looked at the nucleoporin Tpr, which has been implicated in certain cancers.

The team showed, for the first time, that each of the transport channels within a cell is unique, and each cell nucleus possesses a specific number of nuclear pores. Next, the team used molecular methods to remove Tpr to see its effect on the number of nuclear pores, with a surprising result.

"Typically, when you 'knock down' or remove some of the...
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