Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Overcompensating

Role of nucleoporins – proteins that ferry messages from the nucleus elsewhere in the cell – in cancer development

10 August 2022

Overcompensating

Like a large business needs an internal communications team and efficient post room to keep everything working smoothly together, cells require systems to keep departments in tune. Nucleoporins are proteins that ferry essential messages from the nucleus (the cell’s HQ) to other areas, but mutations linked to these can play a role in cancer development. To understand why, researchers examined protein production in fruit fly wings (pictured, nucleoporins labelled green) when certain nucleoporins are disabled. Without them, cell cycles were disrupted, and both cell death and cell replication increased. The extra proliferation of material compensates for the cell death, but if nucleoporin failures coincide with other mutations that block cell death, unrestricted growth occurs and cancers arise. This revealed that nucleoporin mutations change protein synthesis, which impacts cell signalling to cause compensatory growth, and can, in combination with other factors, cause cancer, highlighting them as a potential target for future treatments.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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