Centre for Epigenetics has participated in the investigation of an important molecule involved in the regulation of blood cell proliferation

Scientists at Centre for Epigenetics contribute to the discovery of a mechanism that leads to leukemia*)

SDU Professor Ole Nørregaard Jensen’s research group at Centre for Epigenetics has participated in the investigation of an important molecule involved in the regulation of blood cell proliferation.

Together with other international research groups, Ole Nørregaard Jensen and postdoc Clifford Young have participated in the investigation of the protein JAK2. They have revealed and described a novel mechanism in the blood cells, which leads to leukemia.

– The discovery may have great impact on the treatment of several types of blood cancer, explains professor Ole Nørregaard Jensen.

JAK2 is an important signalling molecule which is involved in the regulation and proliferation of several blood cell types in the human body.

Mutation destroys the regulation

The scientists have mapped the functions of JAK2 and thereby found out, that a specific mutation destroys the molecule’s normal regulation mechanism – and that results in uncontrollable cell growth. The mutation is often seen in leukemia patients diagnosed with the cancer polycythemia vera, and the expectations therefore are, that the new knowledge will be provide a basis for the development of novel therapies.

Scientists from four countries

The research results from the international research team – with participants from Finland, USA, Switzerland and Denmark – have just been published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

The Danish research group has contributed with advanced mass spectrometry – a core facility at University of Southern Denmark. The group was thereby able to identify those small chemical changes that cause an up or down regulation of the JAK2 proteins’ function in the blood cells.

The group is led by Professor Ole Nørregaard Jensen. It is one of five groups at the Centre for Epigenetics, which is financed by the Danish National Research Foundation until 2017.

*) The pseudokinase domain of JAK2 is a dual-specificity protein kinase that negatively regulates cytokine signalling. Daniela Ungureanu, Jinhua Wu, Tuija Pekkala, Yashavanthi Niranjan, Clifford Young, Ole N Jensen, Chong-Feng Xu, Thomas A Neubert, Radek C Skoda, Stevan R Hubbard & Olli Silvennoinen. Published online: 14 August 2011 | doi:10.1038/nsmb.2099



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