Cancer protein’s surprising role as memory regulator

Scientists have found that a key cancer protein could help regulates memory formation – a finding that could pave the way for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Cyclin E is a well-known culprit that drives many types of solid tumors and blood cancers. The study is the first revelation that cyclin E has a crucial role in the formation of nerve connections, or synapses, in the brain.

The researchers found potential evidence linking cyclin E to Alzheimer’s disease, because it binds to an enzyme called Cdk5 that is involved in memory.Many types of cancer cells, including breast, ovarian, colon, and blood cancers, are driven by the overexpression of cyclin E, which acts like a car’s accelerator pressed to the floor, speeding the cells through their growth-and-division cycle and allowing tumors to form and spread.

In the current study, co-lead author Junko Odajima, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Sicinski laboratory, showed that cyclin E in the brain attaches itself to the Cdk5 enzyme. When cyclin E molecules bind to and inactive Cdk5, synapses formation is increased, and, presumably, memory function improves. Read more…

 

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