Friday, November 18, 2016

Cell Repair or Death: The Protein That Decides

A recent study that appeared in Nature Structures & Molecular Biology served to examine a newly discovered protein that aids in the repair or death decision of a damaged cell. Genetic information is found in the DNA of each cell, nestled within the double helix. When a strand breaks, the cell has two options: to be repaired, or to be killed through a process called apoptosis. The purpose of apoptosis is to prevent the growth of cancer cells by stopping the issue before it can truly begin. The newly discovered protein, UFD-2, receives and sends off signals, deciding which of these two options are best.
Image result for damaged cells

The study was conducted by using two different strains of C. elegans (the wild type and a genetically modified form). The DNA was exposed to ionizing radiation in order to induce breakage. Once broken, the researchers observed the work of the UFD-2 protein and attempted to understand how and why a cell chooses to repair or chooses to die. They noticed that cells without UFD-2 did not undergo apoptosis, which allows damaged cells to stay alive. This work is important in the study of cancer cells because by allowing the damaged cells to live, there is a higher risk of cancer cells forming. Although more research needs to be conducted, the researchers pose the questions of how DNA damage leads to cancer, and how it affects the aging process. These observations are a preliminary step in further cancer and cell based research.

This article is important because it opens the doors for further research on cancer cells, something that is in huge demand these days. If we can understand how these cells form on a molecular basis and figure out a way to repair the cells instead of destroying them completely, there would be much better results for cancer patients. This data also serves to describe how the aging process works and data on this could lead to a whole new understanding of looking and feeling younger at an older age.



  1. This research is great in terms of cancer studies. It can really open the eyes of doctors, and even cancer patients, to understand cancer cells a little bit easier.

  2. It is intriguing to see how scientists are actively searching for a correlation between cancer, aging, and peoples' overall health. It is also fascinating to learn that the protein UFD-2 can be a determining factor in selecting whether the cell may repair itself or face apoptosis, which could have severe consequences if mutations or too much replication occur. Do you happen to know why scientists used both the wildtype and the genetically modified form of the C. elegans strains?