SCRANTON – Raj Kumar, of Clarks Summit, a professor of biochemistry and the director of research at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth), is the lead author of a research article published on Nov. 13 in the online journal, Scientific Reports. Scientific Reports is a sister publication of Nature.
The article, “Site-specific phosphorylation regulates the structure and function of an intrinsically disordered domain of the glucocorticoid receptor,” was co-authored by Shagufta H. Khan, laboratory manager of Geisinger Commonwealth’s department of Basic Sciences and another Clarks Summit resident, William A. McLaughlin, Ph.D., associate professor of computational biology.
The paper identifies a mechanism of activation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) that may lead to a potential drug target for endocrine-related diseases including certain kinds of breast and prostate cancers that fail to respond to traditional hormone-based treatments.
Phosphorylation is a natural and necessary post-translational modification that proteins undergo to maintain their specific structure and functions under normal physiological conditions. In specific types of cancer cells – triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and castration-resistant prostate cancer – higher expression and activity of GR have been associated with the growth and proliferation of these cells.
Kumar’s research suggests that inhibiting phosphorylation-induced GR activation process could stop or slow the growth of these cancers.