Cancer scientists study the adenovirus

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have clarified a complex series of biochemical steps involved in abnormal cell proliferation that can lead to cancer.

The Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) Laboratory researchers said they used the adenovirus — a DNA tumor virus that causes the common cold, but whose genome contains known oncogenes, said William Tansey, who led the study with Professors Scott Lowe and Gregory Hannon.

The team focused on an adenoviral oncogene called E1A, and a protein that it codes for with the same name. Since a DNA virus is little more than a tiny segment of DNA enclosed within a protein shell, the researchers said it must find a way to enter the nucleus of a living cell and hijack the cell’s reproductive machinery in order to reproduce.

“It’s not adenovirus itself, but the things it does when it enters a cell, that really interest us, Tansey said.

Understanding how a tumor virus like adenovirus promotes cancer can reveal “the most vulnerable pathways and nodes that are linked to tumorigenesis,” Hannon added.

The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International
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