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Gene May Influence Breast Cancer-Estrogen Link

Targeting this DNA might improve treatment, researchers say

MONDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers say they've found a gene that plays a crucial role in the ability of breast cancer cells to respond to estrogen.

The finding that transcription factor AP2C (TFAP2C) controls multiple pathways of estrogen signaling may lead to improved therapies for hormone-responsive breast cancer and may help explain differences in the effectiveness of current treatments, said a team from the University of Iowa.

The study was published in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

"Estrogen binds to estrogen receptors and triggers a cascade of events including gene regulation," study leader Dr. Ronald Weigel, professor and head of surgery at the university's college of medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"We found that elimination of TFAP2C from the cell causes all of those cascades that we associate with estrogen to go away," he said. "The treated cancer cells were not able to respond to estrogen by any normal pathway."

Silencing TFAP2C inhibited tumor growth in mice. It also halted expression of another estrogen receptor called GPR30, found at the cancer cell membrane.

"Targeting this gene may be a better way to develop drugs to treat hormone-responsive breast cancers, because it targets multiple different pathways," Weigel said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Iowa, news release, Sept. 15, 2007

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