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Transparent zebrafish help researchers track breast cancer
Date:10/22/2007

What if doctors could peer through a patients skin and see a cancer tumor growing? Theyd be able to study how tumor cells migrate: how they look, how they interact with the blood system to find nourishment to grow and spread through the body.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine cant look through human skin. But a small, tropical minnow fish common to aquariums has given UCSD researchers a window for viewing live, human cancer cells in action. Working with transparent zebrafish to study one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, has led to their discovery of how two proteins interact in the metastasis of breast cancer. The study led by Richard Klemke, Ph.D., professor of pathology at UCSD School of Medicine and the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science online edition the week of October 22-26.

By watching human breast cancer cells in real time in the live transgenic zebrafish, we were able to determine that two proteins are required in order for breast tumor cells to complete the most critical step of metastasis entering the blood vessels, said Konstantin Stoletov, Ph.D., of the department of pathology at the UC-San Diego School of Medicine, first author of the paper.

The scientists discovered that two proteins work together to allow cancerous breast tumors to enter the blood vessels, thus promoting metastasis. The first is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein made by cancerous cells that stimulates new blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis. The second is a small protein called RhoC that is involved in cell movement or migration, and is overexpressed in highly metastatic forms of breast cancer.

The researchers found that neither VEGF nor RhoC alone interact with blood vessels to allow the cancerous tumor to enter the blood vessels, or intravasate. But togethe
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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