Chaperone proteins and brain tumors: potential targets and possible therapeutics.
Chaperone proteins are most notable for the proteo- and cyotoprotective capacities they afford during cellular stress. Under conditions of cellular normalcy, chaperones still play integral roles in the folding of nascent polypeptides into functional entities, in assisting in intracellular/intraorganellar transport, in assembly and maintenance of multi-subunit protein complexes, and in aiding and abetting the degradation of senescent proteins. Tumors frequently have relatively enhanced needs for chaperone number and activity because of the stresses of rapid proliferation, increased metabolism, and overall genetic instability. Thus, it may be possible to take advantage of this reliance that tumor cells have on chaperones by pharmacologic and biologic means. Certain chaperones are abundant in the brain, which implies important roles for them. While it is presumed that the requirements of brain tumors for chaperone proteins are similar to those of any other cell type, tumor or otherwise, very little inquiry has been directed at the possibility of using chaperone proteins as therapeutic targets or even as therapeutic agents against central nervous system malignancies. This review highlights some of the research on the functions of chaperone proteins, on what can be done to modify those functions, and on the physiological responses that tumors and organisms can have to chaperone-targeted or chaperone-based therapies. In particular, this review will also underscore areas of research where brain tumors have been part of the field, although in general those instances are few and far between. This relative dearth of research devoted to chaperone protein targets and therapeutics in brain tumors reveals much untrodden turf to explore for potential treatments of these dreadfully refractive diseases.
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