Researchers at Flinders University have discovered a long-hidden metabolic system in cells. The team says the findings could lead to new strategies for future cancer treatments. They found that the metabolic system came from 350 million years ago. The findings provide new opportunities for finding ways to inhibit cell proliferation in malnourished tumor microenvironments.
Researchers at the Finge University, in collaboration with scientists at the St. Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne and other research centers, are studying whether there is also a metabolic system in mammalian cell systems that is essential for regulating the growth and proliferation of yeast cells, known as millet-cracking yeast or millet-cracking yeast.
Scientists on the project say the yeast has evolved to be different 350 million years ago and has been proven to exist in mammals. The team studied two main signal networks, AMP kinase or AMPK proteins, which regulate cellular energy. When nutrients are insufficient, the protein slows down cell growth.
The team also studied another protein complex, called mTORC1 /TORC1. When high levels of nutrients (such as amino acids, insulin, or growth factors) are felt, it also regulates cell growth and increases cell reproduction. Scientists say yeast cells become highly sensitive to nutritional deficiencies when mTORC1’s ability to suppress AMPK is impaired. Cells also divide at a smaller size, indicating that normal cell growth regulation is disrupted.
By discovering two-way regulation between the two major metabolic signal networks, the team said, there is a unique opportunity for treatment strategies. The findings have the potential not only to help with cancer treatment, but also to treat metabolic diseases associated with changes in AMPK activity.