2009 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


2009 Science News of the Year: Genes & Cells

5:07pm, December 18, 2009

Cancer-fighting roles
Scientists have discovered a new role in cancer protection for an already well-known tumor suppressor protein. The protein, called p53, protects cells from becoming cancerous by sensing stress and either shutting down cell division or triggering cell death. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and colleagues have discovered that p53 also plays a role in slicing stretches of RNA into regulatory molecules called microRNAs (SN: 8/15/09, p. 8). Mutations of the gene for p53 prevent proper assembly of microRNA-processing machinery, the researchers found.

MicroRNAs are tiny, containing only about 22 nucleotides, or chemical letters. But the molecules have a big influence on nearly every aspect of cellular function. The absence of some microRNAs has recently been linked to cancers. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, along with others, replaced a microRNA missing from liver canc

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content