The Hormel Institute finds link in colon cancer prevention

Dr. Ke Yao

  Colon cancer could be better treated — or even prevented — thanks to continuing discoveries between inflammation and a common cellular process, established in new research by The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.  Dr. Ke Yao of Dr. Zigang Dong’s Cellular and Molecular Biology lab  published exciting new colon cancer research discoveries in the journal Oncogene. The research focuses on the role that certain proteins have in causing inflammation related to colon cancer.

The article, “RSK2 is required for TRAF6 phosphorylation-mediated colon inflamation” was a collaboration with other researchers from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, The China-US (Henan) Hormel Cancer Institute, Department of Dermatology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, and The Henan Luoyang Orthopedic Hospital including Drs. Sung-Young Lee, Cong Peng, Do Young Lim, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Joohyun Ryu, Tae-Gyu Lim, Hanyong Chen, Guoguo Jin, Zhenjiang Zhao, Yaping Han, Wei-Ya Ma, Ann M. Bode, and Zigang Dong.

“This research is critically important because it shows specifically how inflammation begins and can affect cancer development,” said Dr. Yao.

“By understanding the interactions of these specific proteins cancer researchers can next seek paths to intervene and prevent progression.”
Dr. Ke Yao lab

The protein called Ribosomal S6 kinase 2 (RSK2) which is involved in many cellular functions to see how it may be involved in inflammation. Dr. Yao’s research found that RSK2 was involved in colon inflammation. Through experiments, the team found that when the RSK2 protein worked with another protein called TNF Receptor Associated Factor 6 (TRAF6), the interaction between the two proteins was an important part of colon inflammation.

Inflammation of the colon is a major risk factor for the development of colon cancer, so deciphering the mechanisms that lead to colon inflammation is crucial. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Although death rates have been steadily dropping, it remains the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. This study provided insight into cell functions that lead to colon inflammation and could help identify potential therapeutic targets for colon inflammation and cancer.