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New findings in breast cancer
Date:4/18/2012

s with tumorigenic potential," Bissell says. "This casts doubt on the current hypothesis of hierarchical or differentiative loss of tumorigenicity."

The marker used by the Petersen-Bissell collaboration to isolate the luminal-like cancer cells was milk mucin (MM), one of the glycans, the sugar molecules that are ubiquitous to cell surfaces and central to cellular signaling. Basal-like cancer cells were marked with the protein CD271. The MM glycan was detected by the antibody M18. The CD271 marker was detected by the ME20.4 antibody.

In their investigation, the collaborators found that the ability of the luminal-like breast cancer cells to form large invasive tumors depended on the expression of the glycoprotein gene GCNT1, which in turn is required for the MM glycan to be detected by the M18 antibody. The collaborators believe this finding might be of potential clinical importance for breast cancer as co-author Kuhn, a member of Bissell's research group, explains.

"There has been an increasing appreciation that glycans play an important role in malignant behavior and our work shows that inhibiting the activity of GCNT1 could prevent the invasive behavior of the aggressive luminal-like cancer cells if they express the MM epitope," she says.

While Petersen emphasizes that any clinical implications of this work remains speculative at this time, the finding that multiple types of cells in breast cancers are capable of initiating invasive tumors, he says, could hold implications for future personalized medicine.

"While new avenues in breast cancer targeting have been strongly influenced by the concepts of tumor subtypes and cancer stem cells, we believe our data and recent data from other laboratories opens the possibility of targeting individual stages of differentiation of breast cancer cells within a tumor," Petersen says. "In that way personalized medicine in the future could rely on a cellular-composition-profile with e
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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