Identified: “initiation factor” for cancer
Prof. Rivka Dikstein of the Department of Biomolecular Sciences recently demonstrated how a mutation that affects mRNA translation “sets the stage” for cancer. Using mammalian cells, she showed that an initiation factor called elF1A—known, in its mutated form, to be associated with cancers of the ovaries, thyroid, and eye—plays a critical role in maintaining both cell cycle progression and cell proliferation. Prof. Dikstein’s study reveals that this initiation factor is an essential component of an inhibitory feedback loop that blocks the overexpression of proteins, thereby controlling molecular dynamics that can trigger cancer onset. Her work reveals eIF1A as a biomarker that may eventually contribute to new protocols for preventative cancer screening, as well as diagnosis and personalized cancer therapy.