Finding cancer-promoting proteins in bacteria
Researchers in the Hu lab created the online data browser for the E. coli-to-Cancer Gene-function Atlas (ECGA), which was described in the Jan 10, 2019 issue of Cell.
“Our cells make protein carcinogens,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Susan M. Rosenberg, Ben F. Love Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular and human genetics, of molecular virology and microbiology and of biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Cancer is a disease of mutations. A normal cell that has accumulated several mutations in particular genes becomes likely to turn into a cancer cell.”
Rosenberg’s lab performed a large scale screen to find E. coli proteins that damage the genome when overproduced. Human homologs of these bacterial proteins included some known to be involved in cancer. The paper includes a web interface for exploring the properties of the candidate proteins, which was made by Sandy LaBonte, a research assistant in the Hu Lab working on the Ontology for Microbial Phenotypes project in collaboration with Rosenberg and her student Jun Xia.
Sandy has become an expert in building these kinds of browsers for supplemental data related to bacterial genomics. A press release from Baylor College of Medicine can be seen here.