A protein, found in mutated forms in 42% of ovarian cancer tumor samples, seems to play a role in stopping cell growth when unaltered.
Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine were studying the normal function of a protein called km23 when they made this discovery. The team found that no alterations similar to those in cancer were present in normal human tissues, suggesting that the km23 alterations may be a possible diagnostic indicator for development of ovarian cancer.
The scientists found that km23 is part of the signaling system for a growth factor called TGF, which attaches to TGF-beta receptors at the cell membrane. TGF-beta regulates growth and proliferation of cells. km23 is responsible for helping to match a TGF-signaling component with the right motor complex to get it to the correct destination.
The team also observed that blocking km23 from doing its job in the TGF-signaling system disrupted the transport of the signaling component to the nucleus. This resulted in degradation of the signaling component and reduced gene expression in the nucleus.
The study findings were published recently in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.