BANGALORE: A study conducted recently has found that a protein found in high levels in some cancer cells can be used for treating diseases caused by oxygen free radicals in the body.
Oxygen-free radicals such as hydrogen peroxides and super oxides, called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), are found in the cells as byproducts of cellular metabolism. Uncontrolled levels of ROS in the cell can lead to oxidative stress. Diabetes, atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are caused because of damage caused by oxidative stress in the cells.
Patrick D’Silva, Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and his team have found that Magmas, a mitochondrial protein also regulates the level of ROS in cells, apart from its already known function.
The study has been published in Cell Death and Disease journal.
Magmas is involved in protein transport in cells and is found in elevated levels in certain cancer types.
The team found that the levels of Magmas in the cell are dependent on the cellular ROS levels. Elevated levels of Magmas help in lowering the concentration of ROS and vice-versa.
It not only plays an important role in controlling the production of free radicals, but maintains the ROS homeostasis by efficient scavenging. This protects the cell life and also increases cellular stress tolerance.
“By maintaining a free-radical balance in a cell, this protein prevents stress mediated cellular damage to biomolecules such as DNA, proteins and lipids. Hence, overproduction of Magmas protein provides unique advantages to the cells against free radical stress,” Prof D’Silva said.
Higher levels of Magmas are typically found in metabolically active tissues, cancer cells and tissues at different developmental stages. In cancer cells, Magmas prevents cell death, and hence helps in the proliferation of cancer cells. Even in non-cancerous cells, Magmas shows controlled levels of ROS and much lesser oxidative stress, he added.
Such molecules that regulate the number of free radicals can be used while designing possible therapies for oxidative stress related disorders.
“The inhibitors or stimulators against Magmas can be used as a therapeutic intervention against cancer as well as multiple free-radical induced stress related diseases,” Prof D’Silva explained.