Connolly, whose research focuses on understanding the molecular underpinnings of epithelial ovarian cancer, says she and her colleagues became interested in NEDD9 after learning about its role in other cancers. The protein was discovered in 1996 by Fox Chase Professor Erica A. Golemis, PhD, Co-Leader of the Center's Developmental Therapeutics Research Program and a co-author on the ovarian cancer study.
Proteins like NEDD9 control and regulate the signaling mechanisms between the surface and interior of a cell.
"At the time our research started, we saw an early report suggesting that high-level NEDD9 expression was part of a gene signature related to advanced stage ovarian cancer," says Connolly, senior author on the study.
To study the protein's role in epithelial ovarian cancer, Gabbasov and his colleagues compared tumor growth in two groups of mice bred to spontaneously develop ovarian tumors. Mice in one group lacked NEDD9, and mice in the other group expressed the protein. Using MRI scans, the researchers observed delayed tumor development in the NEDD9-null mice, compared to mice that expressed NEDD9. Analysis of tumor tissue showed more activity in several well-known oncogenic signaling pathways in the mice expressing the protein.
"When we compared the gene expression in these tumors, we were able to see how NEDD9 depletion really affects overall gene expression," says Gabbasov. "It really does affect numerous genes, and we will try to pursue these gene products to better understand the role of NEDD9."
Connolly says that even though this study looked at the ovarian cancer in mice, some of the genes that turned up in the gene express
|Contact: Diana Quattrone|
Fox Chase Cancer Center