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Diabolical duo: Known breast cancer gene needs a partner to initiate and spread tumors
Date:6/26/2014

A study led by Princeton University researchers has revealed that the gene Metadherin which is implicated in promoting the spread of breast cancer tumors only stimulates tumor growth when the protein made by the gene interacts with a second protein known as SND1.

The researchers report in the journal Cancer Cell that Metadherin, or MTDH, also plays a role in the initial growth of tumors, which occurs much earlier than the gene's role in metastasis of the cancer to other parts of the body. In addition, the gene was not necessary for normal cell growth and development in mice, indicating that therapeutics that target this gene are likely to have a good safety profile, the researchers report.

"This is one of the first examples of a gene playing crucial roles in both the early and late steps of breast cancer progression," said senior corresponding author Yibin Kang, Princeton's Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology. "If we can find a molecule to block the function of MTDH and reverse the process, this could have a broad impact on many types of cancer."

MTDH was initially identified as a gene that drives the spread, or metastasis, of mouse breast tumor cells by Dr. Ruoslahti at the Burnham Institute in 2004. Metadherin's role in human breast cancer was further underscored by a 2009 study from the Kang laboratory when researchers noted that the gene was highly expressed meaning it produced MTDH proteins at abnormally high levels compared to normal cells in more than 40 percent of tumor samples obtained from breast cancer patients. Subsequent studies in the Kang lab revealed that MTDH overexpression is associated with poor survival rates, increased risk of metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy.

Invasive breast cancer strikes 1 in 8 women and causes roughly 40,000 deaths each year in the United States. About 20 percent of women with breast cancer go on to develop tumors that spread throughout body
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Contact: Catherine Zandonella
czandone@princeton.edu
609-258-0541
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Diabolical duo: Known breast cancer gene needs a partner to initiate and spread tumors
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