Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Metabolic pathway makes breast tumors more aggressive

15.12.2015

Researchers from the University of Würzburg have revealed a metabolic pathway that seems to make breast tumors more aggressive. The study will also identify possible targets for new cancers drugs. It will appear shortly in the renowned journal Cancer Cell.

The project involved scientists from Berlin, Cambridge, and San Francisco. For their study, this research team examined a protein known as MYC. MYC is a powerful oncogene. Under certain conditions it causes cells to multiply in an uncontrolled manner. This is the case in some highly aggressive breast tumors, for example. The more that cancer cells form MYC, the more malignant they become and the harder they are to treat.


Section through the mammary gland of a mouse. The regions in which the stems cells are located are stained red. In this image, deliberate genetically engineered changes result in the formation of large quantities of MYC, controlling the categorization of stem cells as breast tissue. (Image: Biocenter at the University of Würzburg)


Stem cells of the breast are normally in standby mode. When they receive the signal from MYC that they should form new tissue, they begin to divide. The cells consume a huge amount of energy for their division. They obtain this from special cellular power plants, the mitochondria (stained orange in the figure). In the end, the high demand for energy indirectly causes the cells to lose their stem cell properties, so they can only form breast tissue. (Image: Biocenter at the University of Würzburg)

At the same time, however, MYC assumes a key role in the body. It is involved in regulating adult stem cells. At some point in their lives cells normally decide on a fixed career path, becoming skin cells, liver cells or nerve cells, for example. They cannot abandon this path; for instance, a skin cell will never turn into a liver cell.

Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are pluripotent – their fate has yet to be decided fully. The adult stem cells of the breast, as an example, have yet to categorize themselves as the various types of tissue of the mammary gland. MYC controls this process. “We have been able to show how exactly MYC does this,” explains Dr. Björn von Eyss from the Biocenter at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg.

They found that MYC stimulates stem cell division. To do this it needs a lot of energy. This increased energy consumption activates an enzyme known as AMPK. This enzyme in turn indirectly disables the stem cell program. As a result, the new cells become set on their career: they categorize themselves as breast tissue and lose their stem cell properties.

Dangerous safeguard mechanism

“Stem cell division and categorization are therefore linked,” stresses Björn von Eyss. “We interpret this as a mechanism to safeguard against cancer: The stem cell cannot simply become random tissue types that keep on dividing in an uncontrolled manner.”
Astonishingly, however, this mechanism seems to have precisely the opposite effect in tumor cells of the breast. There, too, MYC activates the AMPK enzyme. But this makes the tumor even more aggressive and harder to treat. The Würzburg researchers are keen to take a closer look in future at why this happens.

A high level of MYC therefore worsens the prognosis for breast cancer patients considerably. “If we prevent the activity of MYC in mice using genetic engineering, on the other hand, the tumors become more benign again,” says von Eyss. However, MYC is unfortunately not a suitable target for drugs, partly due to its diverse range of effects.

So, the researchers have now set their sights instead on the signaling pathway they have identified. “We are looking specifically for agents that reduce the activity of AMPK, for example,” explains von Eyss. “We may be able to use such agents to make tumors grow less aggressively and respond to drugs better.”

Björn von Eyss, Laura A. Jaenicke, Roderik M. Kortlever, Nadine Royla, Katrin E.Wiese, Sebastian Letschert, Leigh-Anne McDuffus, Markus Sauer, Andreas Rosenwald, Gerard I. Evan, Stefan Kempa, and Martin Eilers: A MYC-driven change in mitochondrial dynamics limits YAP/TAZ function in mammary epithelial cells and breast cancer; Cancer Cell; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2015.10.013

By Frank Luerweg

Contact

Dr. Björn von Eyss, Biocenter at the University of Würzburg, T +49 (0)931 31-82695, bjoern.voneyss@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2015.10.013

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technology offers fast peptide synthesis
28.02.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht Biofuel produced by microalgae
28.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

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...

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

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>