Uncovering Novel Molecular Mechanism for Cancer Drug Design

Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) discovered a novel molecular mechanism that controls the delivery of a key protein in planar cell polarity (PCP) – an important process in our body that regulates cell growth and cell movement, providing useful guidance on the development of new drugs for cancer treatment.

Transport vehicles carrying Frizzled-6

PCP is a biological process critical for tissue development and organ function. Defects in PCP could lead to illnesses such as neurological disorder, skeletal abnormalities or congenital heart disease. Even worse, cancer cells can hijack PCP to promote their own growth and expansion.

To offer new direction for more effective therapeutics, a team led by Prof. GUO Yusong, Assistant Professor of Division of Life Science in the School of Science at HKUST, unraveled how a key protein in PCP called Frizzled-6, was transported from within the cell to the cell surface where Frizzled-6 regulates PCP. Understanding the molecular mechanism behind this transportation process meant scientists can now find a way to block transportation of Frizzled-6 and shut down the PCP process if it is hijacked by cancer cells, thereby hindering cancer progression.

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