Bisphenol A impairs the function of proteins that are vital for growth processes in cells. This finding has been reported by researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Wuppertal. The substance, short BPA, is contained in many plastic products and is suspected of being hazardous to health. To date, it had been assumed that bisphenol A produces a harmful effect by binding to hormone receptors. The chemist and biochemist team has discovered that the substance also affects the so-called small GTPases. They published their findings in the "Journal of Medicinal Chemistry".
Complex mechanism of action
"Our research provides further evidence that the physiological effects of bisphenol A may be even more complex than previously assumed," says Prof Dr Raphael Stoll, head of Biomolecular Spectroscopy at the Ruhr-Universität. "However, we have also discovered other related compounds that indicate which path the future development of pharmaceutically effective substances against GTPase-mediated tumours may take," adds synthetic chemist Prof Dr Jürgen Scherkenbeck from Wuppertal.
Bisphenol A impairs the function of GTPases
Small GTPases are enzymes that occur in two states within the cell: in the active form when bound to the GTP molecule; and in the inactive form when bound to GDP, a lower-energy form of GTP. These switch proteins are crucial for transmitting signals within the cell. The researchers have demonstrated that bisphenol A binds to two different small GTPases, K-Ras and H-Ras, thereby preventing the exchange of GDP for GTP. The non-profit organisation German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe e. V.) has financed the project since 2011.