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Enzyme helps prepare lung tissue for metastatic development
Date:2/16/2011

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) study has identified a new role for an important enzyme in preparing lung tissue for the development of metastases. Published in the early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report describes how focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is involved in producing areas of vascular leakiness in lung tissue known to be part of the premetastatic process and increases expression of a molecule that attracts cancer cells to potential metastatic sites.

"Blood from all tissues of the body travels to the lungs for oxygenation, increasing the likelihood that circulating metastatic cells will interact with the lung microvasculature," says Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at MGH and senior author of the study. "Identifying factors that prepare this 'hospitable soil' for tumor formation may help us develop strategies to slow or halt that process."

In order to form metastases, cancer cells carried through the bloodstream need to find an environment that allows them to adhere and proliferate. While recent research supports the hypothesis that primary tumors secrete factors that prepare distant sites for potential metastatic development, defining the role of specific factors has been challenging. The current study investigated whether the ability of tumors in other parts of the body to induce formation of distinct areas of abnormal leakiness in lung tissue contributes to the development of metastases.

The researchers first confirmed that either the presence of an implanted tumor or infusions of factors secreted by tumors produced localized areas of leakiness in the lungs of mice. Analysis of the tumor-secreted factors identified specific molecules known to increase vascular permeability, including the angiogenesis-inducing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Metastatic cells infused into mice treated with either tumor-secreted factor
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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