In mid-January 2024, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena made an important universal discovery: a team of researchers from the Universities of Jena and Shenzhen (China), as well as the Jena University Hospital, decoded a molecular mechanism that plays an important role in the development of breast cancer. Importantly, this process is mediated by the so-called long non-coding RNA PAPAS. These findings may pave the way for new diagnostics and treatments for breast cancer as well as other types of cancer.
The project was led by Dr. Holger Bierhoff, whose research group “Epigenetics of Aging” is also associated with the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lippmann Institute (FLI). His team employed FLI-assisted RNA sequencing to systematically examine gene expression in breast cancer cells with pAPase RNA. Published results revealed that PAPAS can suppress both breast cancer cell growth and metastasis.
The data provided another insight that could be relevant not only for the university project but also for the advancement of research at FLI: “We now know that PAPAS regulates cell growth but is also necessary for proper cell differentiation. Whether PAPAS plays a role not only in cancer development, but also in aging.” With aging, a disrupted function of non-coding RNA means cells cannot fulfill their functions properly and become more vulnerable to degeneration. This connection needs further investigation. PAPAS Or are downstream molecular processes deregulated with age?A promising approach would be to study PAPAS in model organisms for aging research, such as nematodes or the short-lived killfish, which has already been established in FLI.
Wren, S., etc. (2024). PAPAS promotes mammary epithelial cell differentiation and suppresses breast carcinogenesis. Cell report. doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2023.113644