A team of South Korean researchers has found that a previously discovered gene could regulate the progression of leukemia.
Scientists from Pusan National University in South Korea looked into a gene called surfeit 4 (SURF4) after an earlier study indicated that the amino acid protein known as STING (stimulator of interferon genes) exerts anti-cancer effects when working in tandem with proteins such as signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6).
The SURF4 gene produces its own protein — also called SURF4 — in higher quantities in blood cancers, especially acute myeloid leukemia
. When the SURF4 protein binds to STING, the latter can no longer regulate the progression of cancer, but it was not made clear how this happens exactly.
In the new study, published in peer-reviewed online journal Cancer Communications, the South Korean team led by Dongjun Lee and Yun Hak Kim conducted several experiments to find out how the SURF4 gene works, as well as its potential to help produce a treatment for leukemia.
After comparing the expression levels of the SURF4 gene among leukemia patients, the scientists found that the patients with higher levels of the SURF4 protein have lower survival rates.
However, when SURF4-suppressed cells were injected into the tumors of lab rodents, tumor growth was contained. The findings show that leukemia progression could possibly be regulated when SURF4 protein levels are suppressed.
In a press release, Lee highlighted the importance of their findings as their research could potentially help open up new ways to diagnose and treat different forms of blood cancer.
Our work clearly indicates the role of the SURF4 gene in myeloid leukemia. Myeloid leukemic cells are more effectively eradicated when SURF4 is depleted in conjunction with other anti-cancerous drugs. This is something that hasn’t happened in four decades.