publication date: Mar. 30, 2017

Medulloblastoma St. Jude study reveals how an enzyme puts the brakes on aggressive disease

Researchers led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have worked out how a crucial cancer-related protein, a “histone writer” called Ezh2, plays a role in suppressing as well as driving the most aggressive form of the brain tumor medulloblastoma.

Ezh2 is a histone writer, an enzyme that can tag or label other proteins in a way that turns off genes.  The new findings, which appear online today in Cell Reports, show that unlike in some earlier studies where the protein helped to advance disease, Ezh2 can also suppress cancer.

This dichotomy has implications for the potential use of drugs intended to inhibit this enzyme, some of which are being tested in clinical trials. The enzyme looked at in this study is the histone H3K27 mono-, di- and trimethylase of polycomb repressive complex 2, or Ezh2 for short.

This histone writer adds methyl groups to specific histone proteins leading to epigenetic modifications that affect gene expression. The team used CRISPR gene editing to knock out the activity of the protein in a mouse model. Loss of function of this protein due to gene editing resulted in acceleration of the development of medulloblastoma tumors.

Medulloblastoma, which starts in the cerebellum of the brain at the base of the … Continue reading CCL March 2017 – St. Jude study reveals how an enzyme puts the brakes on aggressive disease

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