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Protein compels ovarian cancer cells to cannibalize themselves
Date:11/14/2008

to inhibit cancer in two distinct ways depending on its location in the cell.

First, PEA-15 inhibits one of the prominent actors in the growth, differentiation and mobility of cells, a protein called extracellular signaling related kinase, or ERK. Activated ERK in the cell nucleus fuels cancer growth. The research team earlier found that PEA-15 binds to ERK in the nucleus and moves it out into the cytoplasm, preventing its growth effects.

Now they've found that PEA-15 in the cytoplasm induces autophagy in cancer cells, a second method of inhibiting cancer growth. "These two very different actions by PEA-15 are based on the location of the protein," Ueno said.

ERK is an inviting target for cancer therapy, Ueno noted, but so far no one has been able to develop a successful ERK inhibitor.

"PEA-15 offers us a new dimension for potentially targeting ERK," Ueno said. "We've shown with high levels of PEA-15, women with ovarian cancer are surviving longer." Levels of the protein in tumors also might affect how other drugs work against the disease. Similar research is under way in breast cancer with. PEA-15, which is short for phospho-enriched protein in astrocytes.


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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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