Augusta, Ga. (April 19, 2019) – Identifying a protein that plays a key role in cancer cell growth is a first step toward the development of a targeted cancer therapy. It is especially promising when this protein is dispensable for the growth of normal cells. Their discovery that UNC45A fits these criteria has researchers, led by Dr. Ahmed Chadli, of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, excited about potential new cancer therapeutic strategies involving the inhibition of UNC45A.
UNC45A has long been recognized as a molecular chaperone, responsible for helping other proteins reach their functional state by guiding protein folding. It has a distinct role in cancer, however, where its over-expression in breast and ovarian cancer patient tissues correlates with grade and stage of the disease. After confirming that UNC45A is not required for the proliferation of normal breast cells, Dr. Chadli’s group showed that in both cell and mouse models of breast cancer, UNC45A is required for cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth.
They published the underlying molecular mechanism in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, first by demonstrating that when they silenced UNC45A expression, an enzyme called NEK7 was also down-regulated, by 2-fold. NEK7 plays a key
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