Fish Toxin Holds Potential To Treat Cancer

First Posted: Jul 27, 2015 05:26 PM EDT

Researchers at the University of Freiburg have identified the toxin used by Termini ruckeri, from the same genus of pathogens that causes the bubonic plague in humans, to cause red mouth disease in Salmonidae fish as salmon and trout. However, based on its ability to block cell division in fish embryos, researchers believe the toxin could be used for treating cancer. The findings are published in Nature Communications.

The toxin, Afp18, deactivates the switch protein RhoA, which controls many vital processes in human and fish cells. Among these processes is the building up and breaking down of actin filaments -- which are required for both cell division and for tumor cells spreading in the body.

During the study, researchers injected Afp18 into zebra fish embryos, which caused actin filaments in the embryos to collapse, preventing cell division, as was expected.

Afp18 collapses the filaments by attaching a sugar molecule at N-acetyglucasime onto the amino acid tyrosine in RhoA, which researchers noted as a very unusual reaction in nature, according to a news release.

Due to its Rho-regulatory proteins, researchers noted how Afp18 holds the potential for fighting cancer due to its Rho-regulatory proteins, which are involved in the growth of cancer, especially metastasis.

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