Merlin is an imaginatively-named tumor suppressor encoded by the tumor suppressor gene NF2, a member of the Neurofibromin family. It is mainly expressed in nervous tissue. Merlin antibodies have shown NF2 mutations can cause Type 2 Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of tumors in the central nervous system. Although these are normally benign, they can become cancerous. Merlin is also implicated in a number of other cancers. We at Novus Biologicals are one of the leading antibody suppliers for neuroscience and cancer research.
Although the precise role of the Merlin protein is unclear, its structure is closely linked to members of the ERM (ezrin, radixin and moesin) family, which act by cross-linking the filaments of the actin cytoskeleton with the proteins of the plasma membrane. Antibody studies suggest Merlin plays a similar role in the transduction of extracellular signals, being involved in cell motility and proliferation. Research has shown the Merlin signaling pathway involves a number of cell-growth regulating proteins, including CD44 and protein kinase A. As a tumor-suppressor, it probably acts by contact inhibition of these proteins, preventing further cell growth once adjacent cells make contact.
Recent antibody research at the Wistar Institute has cast light on Merlin’s tumor-suppressor role, showing the protein interacts with interacts with angiomotin. An angiostatin-binding protein, angiomotin regulates capillary growth and migration of endothelial cells, and is also implicated in various cancers. It has been suggested the Merlin-angiomotin pathways work together to prevent further growth.
Merlin-angiomotin binding was shown to occur at cellular junctions. It was suggested binding triggered inhibition of key proteins involved in cellular growth and motility. NF2 mutations allowed cells to continue to grow unchecked, fed by blood vessels stimulated into growth by angiomotin. It was suggested that angiomotin blockers could be an effective treatment against Neurofibromatosis Type 2, and other cancers caused by NF2 mutations.
Antibody suppliers are continuing to support the Wistar Institute in this work.
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