UC Researcher's Findings Appear in National Academy of Sciences Journal
Cincinnati--A study conducted at the University of Cincinnati (UC)
shows that a major step in programmed cell death may be dispensable.
The research was conducted by Ming Xu, PhD, assistant professor of Cell
Biology, at the UC College of Medicine along with researchers from the
Howard Hughes Institute at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas and the Howard Hughes Institute at Vanderbilt
University School of Medicine. It appears in the October 13 edition of
the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Programmed cell death or apoptosis is a fundamental, normal cell
process. After a cell dies, a DNA-chopping enzyme complex digests the
DNA inside the dead cell. Apoptosis is believed to play a role in the
development of an individual. When this process becomes unregulated, it
can lead to cancer or neurological disorders like Parkinsonís or
Researchers studied genetically engineered mice that lacked an
important molecule needed to make the DNA-chopping enzyme complex. They
discovered that even though the DNA inside the dead cells was not
digested, the immune cells and the major organ systems in these mice
appear to develop normally. The mice did not develop cancer or
"These findings are significant because they challenge commonly
accepted beliefs that the DNA-chopping enzyme complex is needed," says
Xu. "Scientists now must determine if the enzyme complex has other
functions in the body or if the complex is necessary."
The study began in May 1997 and was completed in June 1998. It was
supported by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Young
Investigatorís Award, the American Cancer Society, and the National
Institutes of Health.