Navigation Links
UC Davis researchers identify a protein that may help breast cancer spread, beat cancer drugs
Date:4/1/2009

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) New research from UC Davis Cancer Center shows that a protein called Muc4 may be the essential ingredient that allows breast cancer to spread to other organs and resist therapeutic treatment. The study, which appears in the April 1 issue of Cancer Research, is one of the first to characterize the role of Muc4 in the disease.

Kermit Carraway, senior author of the study, knew that Muc4 was not always expressed in primary breast cancer tumors, yet it could be present in lymph node metastases. He suspected that it may have a specialized function in the process of metastasis.

"Breast cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, not by the primary tumor," explained Carraway, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine. "It's at that point that the disease also becomes difficult to treat. We think that Muc4 may be packing a one-two punch by promoting the release of breast cancer cells from the primary tumor and then inhibiting their death."

Muc4 is member of a group of proteins called mucins, which are commonly found in fluids such as tears and mucus. They have a known role in protecting epithelial cells, from which breast cancer cells are derived. When separated from their surrounding cell matrix, epithelial cells tend to die. Metastasizing breast cancer cells, however, can survive this detachment.

"Because breast cancer cells can lose their adhesive properties and still thrive, we suspected that Muc4 may be somehow allowing them to leave their cellular framework, travel to secondary sites and withstand treatment," Carraway explained.

To test his suspicions, Carraway and his team conducted two experiments. They started by comparing breast cancer cells that express Muc4 with those for which Muc4 production is blocked. The researchers then exposed both types of cells to chemotherapy drugs. The Muc4-producing cells survived.

They repeated the experiment with breast cancer cells and epithelial cells that do not naturally express Muc4 but were engineered to do so. Both sets of cells avoided cell death and effectively resisted chemotherapy.

"Our results lead us to believe that Muc4 is somehow disrupting normal links between epithelial cells," said UC Davis graduate student Heather Workman, lead author of the study. "We now need to refine our understanding of this disruption process in order to find ways to interfere with it. There currently are no drugs that target Muc4, and this research will help change that."

Carraway is now preparing to test metastasizing breast cancer tumor cells for the overexpression of Muc4.

"If we find that Muc4 is all over metastasizing breast cancer cells, it will confirm that we are on the right track," he said.

While Carraway's current focus is on breast cancer, his findings could have relevance to other cancers that show aggressive properties. For example, Muc4 is also expressed in pancreatic, lung and ovarian tumor cells.

"Muc4 is likely a central cellular mechanism for metastasis of many cancers, and we will be continuing this important work to prove that," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UC Davis bench-to-bedside research: Promising treatment in clinical trials
2. UC Davis research shows that newly discovered drug reduces heart enlargement
3. UC Davis researchers find molecule that targets brain tumors
4. UC Davis discovery offers hope for treating kidney cancer
5. UC Davis team refines cancer treatments to reduce potential nerve damage
6. UC Davis researchers exploring gene therapy to fight AIDS
7. UC Davis researchers discover Achilles heel in pancreatic cancer
8. UC Davis researchers discover a key to aggressive breast cancer
9. UC Davis chemical ecologist wins major award
10. UC Davis researchers discover new drug target for inflammatory disease
11. UC Davis researchers define characteristics, treatment options for XXYY syndrome
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... , Apr. 11, 2017 Research and ... Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a ... report, Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on ... covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... company, announces the appointment of independent Directors Mr. Robin ... its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance and ... Gino Pereira ... look forward to their guidance and benefiting from their considerable ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell ... Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into ... data, the first application of deep learning to create ... cell lines and a growing suite of powerful tools. ... these and future publicly available resources created and shared ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... Cognition Corporation ... has just released version 9.0 of the Cognition Cockpit platform. , “Our whole ... says David Cronin, CEO of Cognition. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... HOLLOWAY AMERICA, a ... food and dairy, munitions, and pharmaceutical/biotech, recently introduced The Revolution Lift™, a new ... The improvement in technology comes on the heels of HOLLOWAY’s release of the ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 17, 2017 , ... Many complicated neurological ... to develop Alzheimer’s disease, while men are at greater risk for Parkinson’s disease. ... bias is the aim of a research program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... ... 16, 2017 , ... Genedata, a leading provider of advanced ... Group Meetings, which will be held in Boston, Cambridge/UK, Shanghai, and Tokyo. These ... data analysis and learn about the latest advances in screening technologies and applications. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: