Wednesday April 1, 2020

Researchers Identify Key Protein that Spurs Bowel Cancer Growth

Learning more about how Importin-11 transports beta-catenin into the nucleus may help researchers develop new therapies that block this process and reduce the growth of colorectal cancers caused by mutations in APC

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Stroke
The researchers added that future studies could help pinpoint mechanisms and further establish the relationship between cancer and stroke. Pixabay

Researchers have identified a key protein that supports the growth of many bowel cancers, paving the way for development of new therapies to combat the deadly disease.

The study, published in the Journal of Cell Biology, revealed that a protein called Importin-11 transports the cancer-causing protein beta-catenin into the nucleus of colon cancer cells, where it can drive cell proliferation.

Inhibiting this transport step could block the growth of most colorectal cancers — also called bowel cancers — caused by elevated beta-catenin levels.

Around 80 per cent of colorectal cancers are associated with mutations in a gene called APC that result in elevated levels of the beta-catenin protein.

This increase in beta-catenin is followed by the protein’s accumulation in the cell nucleus, where it can activate numerous genes that drive cell proliferation and promote the growth and maintenance of colorectal tumours.

But how beta-catenin enters the cell nucleus after its levels rise is poorly understood.

Gut Bacteria
Researchers have found that people with a certain type of Gut Bacteria may be at a greater risk of developing bowel cancer. Pixabay

“Because the molecular mechanisms underlying beta-catenin nuclear transport remain unclear, we set out to identify genes required for continuous beta-catenin activity in colorectal cancer cells harbouring APC mutations,” said Stephane Angers, Professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Using CRISPR DNA editing technology, the researchers developed a new technique that allowed them to screen the human genome for genes that support beta-catenin’s activity in colorectal cancer cells after its levels have been elevated by mutations in APC.

Angers and colleagues found that Importin-11 binds to beta-catenin and escorts it into the nucleus of colorectal cancer cells with mutations in APC. Removing Importin-11 from these cells prevented beta-catenin from entering the nucleus and activating its target genes.

The researchers discovered that Importin-11 levels are often elevated in human colorectal cancers. Moreover, removing Importin-11 inhibited the growth of tumours formed by APC mutant cancer cells isolated from patients.

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“We conclude that Importin-11 is required for the growth of colorectal cancer cells,” Angers said.

Learning more about how Importin-11 transports beta-catenin into the nucleus may help researchers develop new therapies that block this process and reduce the growth of colorectal cancers caused by mutations in APC. (IANS)

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Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth

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Trees
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.

In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.

“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.

The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.

Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads. Pixabay

In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.

To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.

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“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)