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Metastatic cancers are notoriously difficult to treat and often deadly.

Professor Katherine Jones, first author Seung Choi and colleagues

revealed a new role for a protein called CDK12. By analyzing the role of

CDK12 in protecting cells from chemotherapy, the team discovered a

new group of genes that controls cancer-cell metabolism. CDK12 works

with another protein, mTORC1, to control the process of translation—an

important step in creating a new protein within the cell. This finding

points to a potential newmetastatic drug target.

NEW ROLE FOR A DRIVER OF

METASTATIC CANCERS

Left: The process of cell division, called mitosis,

showing structures called microtubules (orange)

pulling the chromosomes (blue) to opposite

sides, called spindle poles, of the cell. CDK12 is

critical for proper chromosome alignment and

progression through mitosis.

Right: Without CDK12 the chromosomes

become misaligned and detach from the

spindle poles.

From left: Seongjae Kim, Katherine Jones,

Seung Choi and Thomas Martinez.

CANCER

“We’ve discovered

a new translation

pathway that nobody

knew existed, which

is used by a lot of

the factors that

are involved in cell

division—specifically,

separating the

chromosomes.”

KATHERINE JONES

GENES &

DEVELOPMENT

04/2019

7

INSIDE SALK

FALL 2019

WWW.SALK.EDU