3 proteins may play key role in infertility and cancer

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Three proteins regulate each other with surprising twists and turns in female mouse eggs, according to a new study. The discovery could play an important role in female infertility and cancer biology.

The unexpected complexity in how these proteins regulate one another doesn’t happen in any other healthy cell type, says Karen Schindler, an associate professor in the genetics department at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, who specializes in infertility research.

The three proteins are Aurora kinase A (AURKA), AURKB, and AURKC.

“Our research could provide a way to diagnose and perhaps treat certain types of infertility that end in early miscarriage,” says Schindler, senior author of the paper, which appears in Current Biology.

“This work also impacts cancer biology research because we suspect that the inter-protein regulation that occurs in eggs also occurs in certain types of aggressive cancers. Therefore, the findings could be useful in thinking about precision medicine treatments for cancer patients,”¬†Schindler says.

Schindler, an internationally recognized expert in female gamete (egg) biology, says she specializes in infertility research because she’s fascinated by the surprisingly high frequency of infertility worldwide.

One in six couples struggle to start a family in the US alone, she says.

The next steps for reproductive biology include studying the genomes of infertile patients to see if mutations in their genes represent a significant percentage of the patient population with poor outcomes in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic, Schindler says.

The next steps for cancer biology include carefully evaluating cancers that have all three proteins and finding ways to harness their interactive regulation into a cancer therapeutic.

Source: Rutgers University