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Gene helps protect tumor suppressor in breast cancer
Date:4/6/2009

a bona fide breast tumor suppressor gene, we sought to determine if loss of Rak expression would transform normal mammary epithelial cells," Lin said. "We injected control cells or cells in which Rak was compromised into the mammary glands of healthy mice and monitored tumor growth. Notably, all the mice injected with Rak-knockdown cells, but none of the mice injected with control cells, developed tumors."

Recent studies have shown that the PTEN protein is destroyed when it is bound by the enzyme NEDD4-1, which attaches targeting molecules called ubiquitins that mark PTEN for destruction by the ubiquitin proteasome complex.

Lin and colleagues showed that Rak saves PTEN from degradation by attaching a phosphate group to the protein, blocking NEDD4-1 from binding to PTEN.

Although this study demonstrates a PTEN-dependent function of Rak, Lin says much research remains ahead on yet-unidentified PTEN-independent functions of Rak in tumor suppression.

"Recently, we found that Rak can prevent spontaneous DNA damage and has a critical role in suppressing cancer stem cells," he said. "So, we will expand our research efforts toward determining how Rak helps to maintain genomic integrity."


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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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