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LSUHSC research finds trigger for breast cancer spread
Date:1/3/2012

New Orleans, LA Research led by Shyamal Desai, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has discovered a key change in the body's defense system that increases the potential for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body. The results, reported for the first time, are featured in the January 2012 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

For cancer cells shape matters. All cells contain a protein cytoskeleton that acts as a scaffold determining overall shape and function, the position of the cell within an organ or tissue, and the ability of the cell to communicate with its neighbors to prevent the uncontrolled growth typical of cancer cells. However, cell transformations that result in cancer disrupt the genetic programs of the cell and alter the cytoskeleton, leading to changes in shape, function, and cell communication that produce uncontrolled growth and metastatic spreading of the tumor. Understanding these changes to the normal genetic program of a cell and the consequences that ultimately lead to cancer have been major challenges to cancer biologists.

This research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that a cellular defense system called the ISG15 pathway, which is normally involved in fighting bacterial and viral infection, is triggered in breast cancer to disrupt normal cytoskeletal function and increase the possibility that the cancer cells will metastasize, or spread.

"Our findings, for the first time, causally link an alteration in the ISG15 pathway during transformation with metastatic potential," notes Dr. Shyamal Desai, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, "thus providing a novel therapeutic target for future drug discovery."

Cells contain a protein quality control pathway termed the Proteasome that breaks down damaged and unneeded proteins to their component
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Contact: Leslie Capo
lcapo@lsuhsc.edu
504-568-4806
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Source:Eurekalert

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