how important signals within cells go awry offers clues for new
ultimately arises when the brakes are lifted off damaged cells and
they proliferate wildly, often invading other tissues in the body.
That much, researchers have known for years.
scientists are just beginning to understand more about the molecular
factors at work when certain genes within a cancer cell's nucleus
- genes that control whether or not that cell will grow - malfunction.
These cell cycle genes seem to be stuck in the "on" position,
which causes cancer cells to divide. The overarching goal of this
kind of research is to design drugs and other therapies that specifically
hone in on this particular piece of the complex and multi-step process
by which a cell becomes malignant.
UC Davis Cancer Center basic scientists, Ronald Wisdom and Hongwu
Chen, are trying to understand some of the biological mechanisms
underlying breast cancer by studying proteins believed to play a
part in instigating the disease. Both are recent hires brought in
to bolster the cancer center's basic and translational science programs
in breast cancer.
are both really outstanding recruits. I feel very fortunate to have
recruited investigators of such high caliber," said Hsing-Jien
Kung, basic science director at UC Davis Cancer Center. "To
me, they have already made a difference."
certain genes are switched on to activate cell growth is a complicated
chain of events. First, one cell secretes growth factors, which
move through the spaces between cells and bind to speci-fic receptor
molecules on the surface of nearby cells. The receptor then interacts
with other proteins in the cell's interior, eventually reaching
proteins embedded in the nucleus. Once in the nucleus, certain genes
are turned on that usher the cell through the growth cycle.
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