New metastasis mechanism revealed

A signaling molecule commonly found in cancerous tissue primes some breast tumor cells to metastasize to lung but not bone tissue, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.cell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0092867408002110 to be published in __Cell__ tomorrow (Apr. 4). "This work basically provides a deeper understanding of how linkurl:breast cancer;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13530/ spreads throughout the body," said linkurl:David Padua,;http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob started with The Scientist as a staff writer in 2007. Before joining the team, he worked as a reporter at Audubon and earned a master’s degree in science journalism...

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Apr 2, 2008
A signaling molecule commonly found in cancerous tissue primes some breast tumor cells to metastasize to lung but not bone tissue, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.cell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0092867408002110 to be published in __Cell__ tomorrow (Apr. 4). "This work basically provides a deeper understanding of how linkurl:breast cancer;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13530/ spreads throughout the body," said linkurl:David Padua,;http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/51446.cfm the lead author of the study and a Weill Cornell Medical College graduate student who works in the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center lab of the team's leader, oncologist linkurl:Joan Massague.;http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/10614.cfm "This is one of the first examples of this priming phenomenon," Padua said. The researchers, including scientists in New York City and Spain, showed that a cytokine, transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ), can instruct some linkurl:tumor cells;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23272/ to invade lungs by sparking signaling pathways and inducing gene expression that can make metastasis more efficient in lung tissue. "It gives us a little bit more focused view of what TGFβ may...
url:study;http://www.cell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0092867408002110 to be published in __Cell__ tomorrow (Apr. 4). "This work basically provides a deeper understanding of how linkurl:breast cancer;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13530/ spreads throughout the body," said linkurl:David Padua,;http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/51446.cfm the lead author of the study and a Weill Cornell Medical College graduate student who works in the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center lab of the team's leader, oncologist linkurl:Joan Massague.;http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/10614.cfm "This is one of the first examples of this priming phenomenon," Padua said. The researchers, including scientists in New York City and Spain, showed that a cytokine, transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ), can instruct some linkurl:tumor cells;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23272/ to invade lungs by sparking signaling pathways and inducing gene expression that can make metastasis more efficient in lung tissue. "It gives us a little bit more focused view of what TGFβ may do in breast cancer," said linkurl:Boris Pasche,;http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/igp/facindex/PascheB.html director of the Cancer Genetics Program at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study. The study focused on one particular gene, __angiopoietin-like 4__ (__ANGPTL4__), which is induced by TGFβ in some primary tumor cells about to enter the circulatory system to hunt for metastasis sites. __ANGPTL4__ induction makes lung tissue more permeable to tumor cells by disrupting cell-cell junctions in pulmonary blood vessels, thus upping the chances for tumor cell retention by the lungs. These cells are not similarly suited to invade bone tissue. "We suspect that these signaling molecules in the tumor are empowering the cells with specific metastatic abilities," Padua said. TGFβ is linkurl:known;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53062/ to influence tumor progression in a variety of model systems. But Padua and his collaborators developed a bioinformatics tool that showed that the cytokine was regulating a core group of about 150 genes in human breast tumor cell lines and then applied this tool to clinical data from hundreds of breast cancer patients. The researchers found that TGFβ activity in some of these patients was linked to lung metastases. "This patient tissue-specific progression is something that is poorly understood in oncology," said Pasche. Though Padua cautioned that his study was mostly a conceptual work, he said that TGFβ was probably going to become "a molecule that's interesting to target" after continued research. He added that the __ANGPTL4__ gene and its products could become targets for antibody therapy at some point in the future. "It gives us a focus group of patients who may benefit from therapies that target TGFβ," agreed Pasche. Padua also said that the team is using the bioinformatics tool they developed for determining TGFβ's activity to look for similar priming in other tumor types, such as colon and bladder. "There's definitely a possibility of other priming signals that can enhance [metastasis]," he said.

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