Kidney cancer is the seventh most common adulthood cancer in the UK with around 12,500 new cases each year. Cancer cells expand and form primary tumours which can relocate to other organs of the body to form secondary tumours or metastases. To understand how proteins contribute to the formation of kidney tumours, Dr Maria Fragiadaki and Dr Martin Zeidler in the University of Sheffield from the Dept of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease and Bateson Centre investigated a protein called ankyrin repeat and single KH domain 1 (ANKHD1), they found that ANKHD1 is increased in a large number of kidney cancer patients. Roughly 3 in 10 people with kidney cancer have increased ANKHD1.
One approach of finding new therapeutic targets for kidney cancer is to understand the proteins involved and to work out how they contribute to disease. The UoS researchers showed that ANKHD1 interacts with micro RNA. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is present in all living cells and acts as a messenger to carry instructions for building proteins, while micro RNAs are small molecules of RNA that can switch the making of RNA on or off. This is a significant finding because microRNAs are currently being developed for treatment of various cancers, but not for kidney cancer yet.
The full article is currently in press in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) and the full-text can be accessed here (DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA117.000975) or http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2018/04/25/jbc.RA117.000975. This work was funded by Kidney Research UK and Cancer Research UK fellowships awarded to Maria and Martin respectively.