The researchers investigated aneuploidy (AN-u-ploy-dee), the state in which a cell has an abnormal number of chromosomes that creates cellular instability, giving rise to tumors. They discovered two key proteins that help prevent aneuploidy, and also found how the proteins work to "cancer proof" a cell: by preventing premature segregation of duplicated chromosomes during (nuclear) cell division.
Significance of the Mayo Clinic Research
These new cancer players comprise a two-protein complex Rae1-Nup98. This complex works together to stabilize healthy cells by functioning as a kind of cell-division auditing system that makes sure the right number of chromosomes is distributed in each part of a newly divided cell. By so doing, they promote "euploidy" -- the ideal chromosomal distribution needed for stability, and the opposite of aneuploidy.
"What we discovered is that there's an active process of cellular machinery that prevents aneuploidy," says Mayo cancer researcher Jan van Deursen, Ph.D., who led the research team. "It's a surveillance mechanism involving the two proteins Rae1-Nup98 that makes sure that in every cell division the proper number of chromosomes occur."
Dr. van Deursen says the findings help set the stage for the development of a new generation of cancer treatments that are more effective and gentler than the current radiation and chemotherapy treatments used. "The reason we are investigating this in the first place is because 95 percent of all human cancers involve aneuploidy," he says. "When researchers show -- as we have just done -- new mechanisms that p