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Mayo Clinic: Molecule thought cancer foe actually helps thyroid tumors grow
Date:6/20/2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A molecule widely believed to fight many forms of cancer actually helps deadly thyroid tumors grow, and cancer therapies now being tested in humans might boost the activity of this newly revealed bad guy, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida say. Their findings are published online this month in the Journal of Cell Science.

The study found that in anaplastic thyroid cancer, the Forkhead transcription factor, FOXO3a, is not the helpful tumor suppressor everyone thought it was, but, instead, is a lethal promoter of tumor growth. When FOXO3a was silenced in laboratory models of human anaplastic thyroid cancer, the cells grew slowly, but when it was added, they grew much faster.

"This result is exactly the opposite of what we expected," says senior author John A. Copland, Ph.D., a Mayo cancer biologist. "We were more than surprised. We were concerned."

FOXO3a is known as a suppressor of tumor growth because it responds to all forms of cell stress, including that produced in cancer, by turning on genes inside the nucleus that trigger the cell's death. Cancer, in turn, is known to shut down FOXO3a by sending it out of the nucleus and into the cell's cytoplasm, where it is degraded. The molecule that ships FOXO3a out of the nucleus is Akt, which tries to keep cancer cells alive.

The research team used an Akt blocker similar to the ones now being used in human cancer clinical trials expecting to increase nuclear FOXO3a and suppress cancer growth in anaplastic thyroid cancer. They were trying to find a treatment for one of the deadliest known
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Contact: Kevin Punsky
punsky.kevin@mayo.edu
904-953-2299
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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