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Scientists determine how tumor gene controls growth

ATLANTA -- Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and their colleagues have discovered a genetic mechanism that controls cellular growth in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and believe it likely that a similar system may be at work in normal and cancerous human cells.

The findings appear in the November issue of the journal Developmental Cell. Ken Moberg, PhD, assistant professor of cell biology at Emory University School of Medicine, is the lead and corresponding author of the paper. Moberg joined the Emory faculty in 2003, and most of the work described in the paper was done in his Emory lab. The senior author is Iswar K. Hariharan, professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Emory and Berkeley researchers have uncovered important details about how mutational inactivation of the Drosophila version of Tumor Susceptibility Gene 101 (Tsg 101) causes cells to overgrow, leading to organ hypertrophy and tumor-like growths. Scientists first identified the human Tsg101 gene in the mid-1990s based on its ability to control the growth of cells in a culture dish, but little has been learned since then about how it does this. "The work that was done ten years ago strongly implicated Tsg101 as a growth regulatory gene, but how it works has remained largely obscure," Dr. Moberg says,

In the interim, the Tsg101 gene has become better known for its role in "endosomal sorting," the process by which proteins are shuttled to and from the cell surface, but researchers had little luck connecting this property to the gene's potential role in human cancer. "People didn't really understand how the two would fit together," Moberg says.

Moberg's findings show that there is in fact a direct link between the "sorting" and growth regulatory roles of Tsg101. Moberg and his team determined that defective sorting of the Notch receptor, a protein that sends signals throughout the cell, is
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Contact: Richard Quartarone
richard.quartarone@emory.edu
404-727-3366
Emory University Health Sciences Center
31-Oct-2005


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