Professor David Jans
(Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University)
Efficient and above all specific anti-cancer strategies are urgently required. We intend to examine the unique subcellular targeting abilities of the tumour-cell specific agent apoptin, a small protein encoded by the genome of the chicken anaemia virus. We have already identified the part of the apoptin molecule that confers efficient localisation in the nucleus of tumour cells, but not non-tumour cells, and aim to define this tumour cell-specific targeting signal in detail, to determine the molecular basis of the differential subcellular localisation of apoptin in tumour compared to normal cells. This should contribute new information regarding the differences between cancer and normal cells. Additionally, we intend to optimise the targeting signal and performinitial experiemtns to test its efficacy in targeting anti-tumour drugs to the nucleus of tumour cells. Our long-term aim is to use the apoptin tumour cell-specific nuclear targeting signal as part of modular constructs to combat cancer efficiently, and above all, with minimal damage to normal cells and tissues.