Juan García-Moreno, PhD student at the Gene Expression and Regulation Group at the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, is the first author of a new paper – coordinated by Luísa Romão, principal investigator at the same group –  that was published in the Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences journal. In the BioISI Digest below get to know more about DIS3L2 protein’s role in colorectal cancer.

What was the starting point that led to the current research?

The role of DIS3L2 in cancer was very limited and ambiguous. Some researchers have suggested that this protein acts as a tumor suppressor, while others have described it as a cancer driver. Due to preliminary data indicating its involvement in colorectal cancer, we investigated its role in this cancer type. 

What is the main finding reported in this paper?

In this paper, we have uncovered that DIS3L2 plays a vital role in sustaining the cell viability and invasive potential of colorectal cancer cells via the mTOR signaling pathway.

If you had to explain the main finding to a 5-year-old child, how would you do it? 

We found that a protein called DIS3L2 is very important for keeping cancer cells alive and helping them to spread. Without this protein, cancer cells wouldn’t be able to survive or move around as easily. 

Why is it important for the scientific community and for society at large?

Our findings can help scientists to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanism driving colorectal cancer. This knowledge can pave the way for the development of more sophisticated therapies to combat this disease, for instance, by designing drugs that modulate DIS3L2’s function in patients affected by this cancer.

What are the next steps?

Having identified in this paper that DIS3L2 acts as activator of the mTOR signaling pathway, we need to further characterize the interplay between both and its potential to develop a therapeutic target. Moreover, we will validate these findings in a in vivo model to ensure their relevance and applicability in a more complex biological context.

From left to right: Juan García-Moreno, Paulo Matos and Luísa Romão [images provided by the researchers]

Find out more about GER Group  here

Read the full paper here.