Far from merely helping cells transfer vital genetic information––a long-held belief among researchers––Pax5 plays a much more significant role. Evidence suggests that the protein organizes DNA in the immune system’s B cells. When this function fails, it can cause cells to deteriorate and ultimately lead to cancer and other diseases, according to scientists in Australia.
The scientists discovered that Pax5 travels across the genome, systematically sorting and storing DNA for B cells in a manner that ensures the cells will receive the genetic information required to maintain health. This helps prevent diseases such as leukemia, concluded the researchers, who published their research in Nature Immunology.
Using data analysis tools to examine Pax5’s role in DNA structure, the team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne were able to study differences in DNA organization when Pax5 was present and when it was removed from B cells.
While Pax5 is known to be faulty in many leukemias, cancer is not the sole risk associated with a breakdown in the protein’s activity. Immune B cells require the right information to make the potentially life-saving antibodies that are vital for vaccine and immune responses, according to study co-author Timothy Johanson, PhD.
Although there have been major advances in treating B-cell cancers, oncology researchers are still seeking ways to tackle blood cancers from different angles. Advances in data analysis and using the latest technology are critical for discovering how major cancer-related proteins such as Pax5 function, said the Australian scientists.
Source: FierceBiotech, October 15, 2018