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Researcher uncovers details of how cancer spreads

n the study, the researchers found that v-Src attaches to an enzyme, called focal adhesion kinase, inside the cell. This association jump-starts a series of cascading interactions between proteins in the cell that ultimately block some cell-surface proteins from entering through the cell's membrane.

One of the proteins not allowed entry is called MT1-MMP. As this material accumulates on the cell surface, it degrades the connective tissue that holds the cancerous cell in place. The build-up of MT1-MMP also activates an enzyme called MMP2, which further degrades the connective tissue. In this way, the cancer cell loses its moorings and can float off to spread around the body. While no one has found v-Src in human cancer patients, a number of other cancers have been linked to viruses, including the herpes virus and its association with cervical cancer.

"Critics of this work will ask why v-Src has not been found in human cancer," said Guan. "But there are many examples of studies and ideas that come out of work like this that stimulate related research with clinical impacts.

"We looked at a relatively late stage of cancer and its spread within the body," Guan added. "The spreading part is less well understood, and it's the spreading that is killing people."


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Source:Cornell University News Service


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