Metabolic pathways are frequently dysregulated in human diseases and a protein called TRAP-1 – a member of the heat shock protein (HSP90) family – has been implicated in this process. Researchers at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now believe that TRAP-1 is a central regulator of mitochondrial bioenergetics and may be involved in tumourigenesis.
While developing an investigational TRAP-1 antagonist drug, Dario Altieri and co-authors created TRAP-1-knockout mice. Unexpectedly, these mice had a reduced susceptibility to age-related pathologies, including obesity, inflammatory tissue degeneration, dysplasia and spontaneous tumour formation
Describing their observations as “astounding”, the researchers say the findings strengthen the case for targeting HSP90 in tumour cells and open “a fascinating array of questions that may have implications for metabolism and longevity”.