Ozarks professor makes strides in cancer-related research.

Release Date: 1/20/2006

Biology professor conducts research on campus with Ozarks students.

CLARKSVILLE, ARK. (January 20, 2006) – Ozarks biology professor Sean Coleman was part of a team of scholars who recently published an article highlighting their research into cellular resistance to disease-causing factors in the human body.

The article, published in the December 9, 2005 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, focused on Yap1p, a protein found in yeast that is also a key factor in oxidative stress resistance, or how human cells react to oxygen.

Yap1p is similar to a human gene called c-Jun, which in turn is “A gene we require, but if it gets messed up it can cause cancer,” said Coleman, who worked in collaboration with three other scientists, including Dr. W. Scott Rowley, who oversaw the research in his lab at the University of Iowa.

“What we found is that Yap1p is the key regulator of oxidative stress in yeast cells,” said Coleman. “It helps to get rid of the oxidative stress agent.” Oxidative stress, which occurs when the human body uses oxygen to generate energy, can damage cells and possibly cause aging-related illnesses, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as several types of cancer.

Coleman, who came to Ozarks in 2000 after earning his Ph.D. at Iowa, has also led research into oxidative stress with Ozarks students, and hopes to continue his research into oxidative stress, both at Ozarks and in Iowa.

“We want to know (more) about how Yap1p responds to oxidative stress,” said Coleman. “We might be able to make cells more resistant. …and keep cells, and perhaps whole organisms, healthier for longer periods of time.”

He also wants to research other proteins and how they interact with human DNA. “If you identify where a protein binds, you can see what role it plays,” said Coleman. Such research could then give scientists a clearer picture of cellular development and disintegration.