Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologists Pinpoint a Genetic Change That Helps Tumors Move to Other Parts of the Body

07.04.2011
MIT cancer biologists have identified a genetic change that makes lung tumors more likely to spread to other parts of the body. The findings, to be published in the April 6 online issue of Nature, offers new insight into how lung cancers metastasize and could help identify drug targets to combat metastatic tumors, which account for 90 percent of cancer deaths.

The researchers, led by Tyler Jacks, director of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, found the alteration while studying a mouse model of lung cancer. They then compared their mouse data to genetic profiles of human lung tumors and found that reduced activity of the same gene, NKX2-1, is associated with higher death rates for lung-cancer patients.

This study represents an important step in understanding how changes that disable this gene would make tumors more aggressive, says Monte Winslow, a senior postdoctoral associate in Jacks’ lab and lead author of a paper.

Understanding the role of NKX2-1 may help scientists pursue drugs that could counteract its loss. Right now, “the sad reality is that if you could tell a patient whether their cancer has turned down this gene, you would know they will have a worse outcome, but it wouldn’t change the treatment,” Winslow says.

Winslow and his colleagues at the Koch Institute studied mice that are genetically programmed to develop lung tumors. The mice’s lung cells can be induced to express an activated form of the cancer-causing gene Kras, and the tumor suppressor gene p53 is deleted. While all of those mice develop lung tumors, only a subset of those tumors metastasizes, suggesting that additional changes are required for the cancer to spread.

The researchers analyzed the genomes of metastatic and non-metastatic tumors in hopes of finding some genetic differences that would account for the discrepancy. The absence of NKX2-1 activity in metastatic tumors was the most striking difference, Winslow says.

The NKX2-1 gene codes for a transcription factor — a protein that controls expression of other genes. Its normal function is to control development of the lung, as well as the thyroid and some parts of the brain. When cancerous cells turn down the expression of the gene, they appear to revert to an immature state and gain the ability to detach from the lungs and spread through the body, seeding new tumors.

Once the researchers identified NKX2-1 as a gene important to metastasis, they started to look into the effects of the genes that it regulates. They zeroed in on a gene called HMGA2, which had been previously implicated in other types of cancer. It appears that NKX2-1 represses HMGA2 in adult tissues. When NKX2-1 is shut off in cancer cells, HMGA2 turns back on and helps the tumor to become more aggressive.

They also found that human tumors with NKX2-1 missing and HMGA turned on tended to be metastatic, though not all metastatic tumors fit that profile.

It would be difficult to target NKX2-1 with a drug because it’s much harder to develop drugs that turn a gene back on than shut it off, Winslow noted. A more promising possibility is targeting HMGA2 or other genes that NKX2-1 represses.

Jacks’ lab is now looking at other types of cancer, to see if NKX2-1 or HMGA2 have the same role in other metastatic cancers. “It’s great to find something that’s important in lung cancer metastasis, but it would be even better if it controlled metastasis in even a subset of other cancer types,” Winslow says.

Patti Richards | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: Genetic clues HMGA2 NKX2-1 death rate lung cancer metastatic tumors

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>