News from the LDI
New pathway to inhibiting genetic damage is promising discovery in fight against cancer
When our DNA is damaged, complex signals in the cell trigger processes to repair our genetic material. Researchers at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital have discovered a protein that inhibits the body’s efforts to repair damaged DNA. Left unchecked, the damage accumulates, leading to tumor formation and malignancy. The findings will be published online tomorrow by the prestigious EMBO Journal.

Led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Frédérick Antoine Mallette, the authors reveal that the protein, called Jumonji D2A, regulates the action of another protein, called 53BP1, that suppresses tumor formation.

“In identifying that Jumonji D2A is a regulator of genomic stability, we may have found a new pathway to limiting cell damage and preventing the uncontrolled growth of mutant cells,” explained Dr. Stéphane Richard, James McGill Professor of Medicine and Oncology, in whose lab the discovery was made.

The important function of 53BP1 has long been recognized. What was not previously understood was how 53BP1 is recruited to precisely where the DNA has been damaged. Research has also shown that when Jumonji D2A is over-expressed, as in certain breast and lung cancers, 53BP1 can be overwhelmed and unable to perform its reparative function. Consequently, from a clinical perspective, inhibition of Jumonji D2A by drugs may successfully restore 53BP1’s tumor suppressor function.

“A potential drug would be a small molecule that inhibits the marriage of Jumonji D2A and 53BP1, allowing 53BP1to have uninhibited access to the DNA damage,” Dr. Richard offered.

The article was written by an international group of co-authors from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, in addition to the Lady Davis Institute.

The complete article is available on-line.

For further information, and to arrange interviews, contact:

Tod Hoffman
Research Communications Officer
Lady Davis Institute
Tel.: 514-340-8222 x 8661

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