Notorious Gene Protects Tumour Cells against Chemotherapy
The astrocyte elevated gene-1, or AEG-1, is well-known for its involvement in tumour cell development and metastasis. However, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University have now discovered that this notorious gene has another sinister function – it protects cancer cells from the effects of chemotherapy.
The new study shows that via its molecular mechanism, AEG-1 has the ability to induce chemoresistance, which is an important characteristic of aggressive cancers that contributes to cancer cell survival. In the advanced stages of many cancers, AEG-1 expression is elevated. Hence it most likely plays an important role in regulating cancer progression and ultimately, metastasis.
Yet all is not lost, thanks to emerging bioinformatics technologies. It is believed that by inhibiting the expression of this gene, new effective approaches for treating aggressive cancers may be developed. Researchers can now investigate how AEG-1 promotes resistance to chemotherapy and enhances cancer cell survival. With this knowledge they will be able to design experiments that aim to knock out the AEG-1 function by targeting the functional regions of the protein. This can then be used in molecular modelling studies to design leads that could inhibit this gene and its regulated pathways, thereby uncovering potential therapeutic targets for enhancing the ability of anti-cancer drugs to fight tumours.
SynaTate™ is a free bioinformatics tool designed by MGRC to annotate next generation sequencing data. Using this application against an NR protein database, we can confirm that the protein-encoding region (CDS) is as expected within the first forward reading frame. Searching this CDS region against the SwissProt database reveals that AEG-1’s closest match is the LYRIC protein. LYRIC proteins are known inducers of tumour cell expansion and metastasis, as well as chemoresistance within those cells.