Cancer protein could help regulate memory

23 September 2011

A common cancer protein helps to regulate memory formation in the brain and may be implicated in Alzheimer's disease, a new study has found.

The research led by Peter Sicinski, PhD, a cancer biologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and senior author of the publication, found that cyclin E has a crucial role in the formation of nerve connections, or synapses, in the brain.

He said: "This protein has a double life. It is over expressed in many different cancers, but it also is expressed in high levels in the human brain."

Prof Sicinski added that the scientists found that cyclin E is needed for memory formation and is a "very important player". They also found potential evidence linking cyclin E to Alzheimer's.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centres in the United States.

By Jeanette Royston

Sicinski, P. et al., "Cyclin E Constrains Cdk5 Activity to Regulate Synaptic Plasticity and Memory Formation", Developmental Cell, September 22nd 2011.

Cyclin E is a component of the core cell cycle machinery, and it drives cell proliferation by regulating entry and progression of cells through the DNA synthesis phase.

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