Navigation Links
Penn researchers identify potential target for breast cancer therapy

PHILADELPHIA Overexpression or hyperactivation of ErbB cell-surface receptors drives the growth of many breast cancers. Drugs, like Herceptin, that block the receptors' signals halt tumor progression in some patients. However, not all patients' tumors respond, with some becoming resistant over time. Different drugs that interfere with other steps in the signaling pathway may improve the response of patients, yet little is known about these molecules.

Now, Marcelo G. Kazanietz, PhD, professor of Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and colleagues, report that a protein called P-Rex1 is crucial for signal transmission from ErbB receptors. What's more, they found that P-Rex1 is overexpressed in nearly 60 percent of breast cancer samples tested and patients whose tumors express P-Rex1 were more likely to develop metastasis, compared with those whose tumors did not express P-Rex1.

"We identified a downstream target of the ErbB receptors which seems to be crucial for cancer cell proliferation, migration, and metastasis," Kazanietz says. "Understanding how this pathway works should allow us to find new drugs or therapeutic approaches in the future."

The team's research is featured on the cover of the December 22 issue of Molecular Cell.

A Well-Known Family

The ErbB family of receptors is well known in the cancer world. The family includes the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, also known as ErbB1); ErbB2 (also known as HER2/neu), which is the target of Herceptin; as well as ErbB and ErbB4.

Previous work from Kazanietz and others suggested the receptors might rely on small proteins in the Rac pathway to help transmit their signal. To find out if that was the case, Kazanietz and colleagues examined human breast cancer cell lines and found that one Rac pathway protein, P-Rex1, is overexpressed in numerous cell lines compared with normal mammary cells. The team also found that P-Rex1 is present in some breast tumors, particularly those that express the Her2/neu receptor or estrogen receptor and belong to the luminal subtype.

"We found that about two-thirds of the patient samples had very high levels of P-Rex1 expression in tumor cells in their lymph nodes," Kazanietz says. "There seems to be a correlation between P-Rex1 expression in the tumor cells and the capacity of these cells to metastasize. And since P-Rex1 is likely to be essential for cell migration and migration is essential for metastasis, we believe blocking this pathway could reduce the risk of metastasis."

P-Rex1 may be important for several other cancer-promoting pathways. For example, estrogen-receptor signaling also appears to rely on P-Rex1, which means that targeted inhibitors of P-Rex1 might improve responses to anti-estrogen therapies such as tamoxifen.

The authors also found that P-Rex1 is also used by another receptor, CXCR4, which has recently shown up in many cancer studies. Despite being used in numerous pathways during cancerous growth, P-Rex1 is not expressed in many normal tissues. "That gives us a very good target. It is really cancer specific," Kazanietz says. "What's more, as P-Rex1 is expressed in some subtypes of breast tumors, it may be an excellent prototype for future personalized medicine."

Preclinical data from other groups supports the importance of the Rac pathway in cancer, according to Kazanietz. And small molecule inhibitors that block proteins in the Rac pathway appear to have strong anti-cancer effects in model systems, though their use in patients still needs to be tested.


Contact: Karen Kreeger
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers Turn White Fat to Energy-Burning Brown Fat in Mice
2. Finnish researchers find a compound that prevents the growth of prostate cancer cells
3. Ben-Gurion U. researchers: High resistance rates among acute otitis media pathogens in children
4. Breast inflammation is key to cancer growth, Kimmel Cancer Center researchers say
5. Researchers discover new signaling pathway linked to inflammatory disease
6. UCI researchers find novel memory-enhancing mechanism in brain
7. Researchers make critical leukemia stem cell discovery
8. U-M researchers discover way to block neurodegeneration in an adult form of Fragile X syndrome
9. Leibniz Prize 2011: 10 researchers awarded €2.5 million ($3.3 million) each
10. Researchers Turn Stem Cells Into Intestinal Tissue in Lab
11. Expert analysis of HER2 tests reveals issues with reliability, Mayo Clinic researchers say
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Penn researchers identify potential target for breast cancer therapy
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... PRMA Plastic Surgery is ... 2015, our surgeons performed their 6,000th free flap breast reconstruction surgery! , “What an ... every day excited to rebuild lives and it’s an honor to have served all ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Karnataka (PRWEB) , ... November ... ... innovative online platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with ... to holistically address their reader’s queries on topics on mental and emotional ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... As part ... For Empowerment ™ attracts volunteers together who want to combine talents and resources ... key stakeholders in the process. The non-profit launched its first major fundraiser on ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... been recognized once again for its stellar workplace culture with the company’s Cincinnati ... , Medical Solutions’ Cincinnati office was named a finalist in Cincinnati Business ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... Ministers, senior government and UN agencies, representatives from ... Excellence, and public R&D institutions, civil societies and other partners gathered today at ... Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation, ANDI, Stakeholders Meeting. The three- day meeting ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- The total global healthcare industry is expected to grow at ... America has the highest projected growth at 12.7%, ... ), is second with growth projected at 11.5%. ... expenditure. In 2013-2014, total government funded healthcare was nearly 68%. ... 41.2% in 2013-2014. In real terms, out of pocket expenditure ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... WOODBURY, N.Y. , Nov. 25, 2015  Linden ... access and optimizing treatment outcomes for patients suffering from ... its request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining ... between the two companies. --> ... aggressively pursuing all of its legal options. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... USA , Inc., a leader in ... accuracy of its blood glucose meter systems. Last week ... Cardiovascular Disease in Los Angeles , ... 01 meter and the Assure ® Prism multi-user ... measure glucose levels in blood is essential for people ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: