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 Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>