The tumor suppressor p53 plays a crucial role in apoptosis and cell cycle regulation and ensures a cell’s integrity [1, 2]. Endogenous p53 levels are regulated by the ubiquitin ligase Mdm2 . Both p53 and Mdm2 have been shown to be conserved throughout the animal kingdom and orthologs of both genes have been found in the simplest animal, Trichoplax adhaerens [4, 5, 6]. Our first studies have shown that the interplay is crucial for the animals’ health and chemical interruption of the p53/Mdm2 interaction leads to abnormal phenotypes.
Artificially induced cancer and tumor-like growth in Trichoplax adhaerens.
We also seek to better understand the interplay between Myc and Max in Trichoplax. Myc is a proto-oncogene and its malfunction leads to an enhanced formation of tumors [7, 8] As a transcription factor belonging to a family of bHLH-Zip proteins, Myc interacts with Max and several other proteins to activate or repress downstream target genes [9, 10]. Myc and Max are conserved within the Metazoa [11, 12] and are of fundamental importance for cellular processes. Within the diploblasts, research on these transcription factors has mainly been conducted on the freshwater polyp Hydra [13, 14]. To elucidate their functions we use functional genetics combined with biochemical and biophysical approaches.
Alpha tubulin and DAPI staining in Trichoplax adhaerens.
The bar marks 50 µm.
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