Liver regeneration phosphatases play a unique role in the growth and spread of cancers


The regenerative liver phosphatases (PRLs) are a family of enigmatic proteins involved in cell growth and metabolism found in various species. From humans to fruit flies, they play a unique role in the growth of carcinoid tumors and the spread of cancer throughout the body. New, emerging research from McGill University contributes to what is known about PRLs, which could become an important tool in developing anti-cancer therapies.

Led by Kali Gering, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and founding director of the McGill Center for Structural Biology, the researchers focused on unraveling the mystery around PRLs.

It is important for us to study PRLs because they are very important in cancer. In some cancers such as metastatic colorectal cancer, the proteins are overexpressed up to 300-fold.”

Callie Gehring, Professor, Department of Biochemistry

Posted in Journal of Biological ChemistryProfessor Geering and colleagues confirmed (with data collected at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan) that not only are PRLs found in all species of unicellular and multicellular animals, but that the role of PRLs in binding magnesium transporters is common to all species studied.

This overexpression of PRLs makes cancer cells more metastatic and leads to their spread to other organs. This data can help further understand how these proteins affect human diseases.

“What we learned is that they all bind magnesium transporters in the same way,” says Gehring. “We are excited because it helps us understand this pathway, and this will reveal new targets for drugs to prevent the development of cancer.”


Journal reference:

Fakih, R.; et al. (2023). Bursting kinetics and CNNM binding are evolutionarily conserved properties of phosphatases in liver regeneration. Journal of Biological Chemistry.


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