Latest discoveries have enabled a team of scientists to come up with a description of the structure and important features of human surveillance protein which protects against cancer, viral, and bacterial infections. The uncovering of the human-specific variations in the protein finally answers a crucial question pertaining to cancer biology and immunology. A protein called “first responder,” also known as cGAS, is one of the cell’s first bulwark. This is because it can detect foreign and cancerous DNA and start a string of signals which eventually kicks in the defenses of the body.
When cGAS was first discovered in 2012, it kicked up numerous questions pertaining to it. And despite almost 500 research publications on it, little could be unraveled on the structure and key features of the human protein.
New Discovery Could Prove a Boon for Cancer Therapies
In a first, recently a group of scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School have uncovered the functional and structural differences in human cGAS that distinguishes it from cGAS in other mammals and underpin its various functions in people.
The research shows that human cGAS has mutations which bring about sensitivity to lengthy DNAs while rendering it insensitive to short DNA fragments.
Most importantly, however, the findings can help in finding small-molecule drugs custom-made for novel structural features of the human protein. Such a finding could have far-reaching impact on boosting the precision cGAS-modulating drugs for cancer therapies.