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Research probes key protein's role in cancer cell growth

January 30, 2018

The oncogene RAS is the most frequently mutated gene of its type in human cancer. Active mutants are found in 60 to 90 percent of cases of pancreatic cancer, and a significant portion of colorectal and lung cancers.

Among all RAS-driven cancers, the most frequently mutated gene is KRAS. Two variants of this gene – K-Ras4A and K-Ras4B – also have important signaling functions and can promote cancer cell proliferation if mutated, so gaining a better understanding of their regulation and function could lead to development of improved cancer therapeutics.

Two new studies led by Hening Lin, professor of chemistry and chemical biology, offer new insights into this important protein. The first study identifies an enzyme – SIRT2, one of seven mammalian sirtuins to which Lin’s lab has devoted much study – that helps promote K-Ras4A’s interaction with specific proteins to promote the growth of cancer cells. 

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