Study reveals messenger molecules in cell walls can double as hormones

Researchers have discovered that some common messenger molecules in human cells double as hormones when bound to a protein that interacts with DNA. The finding could bring to light a class of previously unknown hormones and lead to new ways to target diseases – including cancers and a host of hormone-related disorders.

Published in the Oct. 6 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these results were made possible, in part, by X-ray experiments at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

“This finding is comparable in its importance to the discovery of how the estrogen hormone triggers activity in human cells, which was key in the development of anti-breast cancer drugs and other hormone treatments,” Robert Fletterick, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at University of California, San Francisco, and one of the principal investigators in the study, said. Via Study reveals messenger molecules in cell walls can double as hormones.

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