According tomedia reports, how cancer formed is a complex mystery. Now, scientists have discovered how two of them work together to prevent cancer, which could open up new cancer treatments. The core protein in the new study is called PP2A. It is present in the cells of each organism and plays an important role in removing phosphate groups from other proteins. Previous work has found that this makes it useful as a tumor inhibitor.
But exactly how it does this function remains a mystery. Scientists aren’t sure which specific proteins it regulates and which have anti-cancer effects. Now, researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Dartmouth College and Norris Cotton Cancer Center have identified one of these mechanisms.
The researchers found that the culprit turned out to be an enzyme called ADAM17, which is located on the outer membrane of the cell and acts like a molecular scissors. It splits other proteins, which, among other things, stimulate cell growth. As a result, ADAM17 is known to stimulate some cancers, such as breast and bowel cancer.
The team found that PP2A shuts down ADAM17, which inhibits tumors. Although ADAM17 is mostly located outside the cell, PP2A attacks the part inside the cell, removing its phosphate group and inactivated. In tests in mice, the team successfully inhibited tumor growth by combining PP2A with ADAM17.
The next steps, the researchers say, involve examining the possibility of using PP2A-activated substances to regulate the activity of ADAM17. If so, this could open up a new avenue for cancer treatment. The team will also study proteins that PP2A may interact with other proteins.
The study was published in the journal EMBO Journal.