Pias3 was known to alter gene control in cells outside of the eye.
And, since Pias3 also is found in developing rod and cone and no other cells in the eye, the team hypothesized that it might act to help these cells "decide" which type to become.
In the new study, scientists engineered mice to make more Pias3 than normal in the eye and counted rod and cone cells.
Those eyes contained more rod cells than eyes from mice containing a normal amount of Pias3 protein.
For further analysis, the team altered the Pias3 protein to disrupt its SUMOylation activity.
The team found that STAT3 down regulation, via enhanced expression of PIAS3 or exposure to a peptide derived from PIAS3, inhibited cell growth and increased apoptosis in cancer cells.
Editor's Note: "Our findings suggest that PIAS3 expression positively affects survival in mesothelioma patients and that PIAS3 activation could become a therapeutic strategy," Dr.