MicroRNAs are known to inhibit the activity of entire sets of genes associated with cancer metastasis – a process that leads to the majority of cancer-related deaths. The new work explains how the loss of certain microRNAs allows cancer cells to migrate through organ tissue and to grow more rapidly.
The researchers examined human breast cancer cells with strong metastatic ability and found that the cells had lost large numbers of three different microRNA molecules. Conversely, when researchers put those molecules back into human breast cancer tumors in mice, the tumors lost their ability to spread.
In addition, the researchers looked at breast cancer patients and discovered that those with tumors that had lost these molecules were much more likely to suffer from cancer metastasis to the lung and bone.
“The identification of molecules that inhibit a cell’s metastatic potential may help guide clinical decision-making in the future by enabling oncologists to more accurately identify patients at highest risk for metastatic relapse,” said the study’s lead author Sohail Tavazoie, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Oncology-Hematology Fellowship program at MSKCC.
In further analyzing one of these microRNAs, called miR-335, investigators found that miR-335 works by suppressing certain genes that are associated with human metastasis, particularly SOX4, which acts as a transcription factor (meaning that it regulates a group of genes responsible for cell development and migration), and tenascin-C, which functions outside the cell in what is called the extracellular matrix and is implicated in cell migration.
“We now have a better understanding of the role this molecular pathway plays as a suppressor of breast cancer’s ability to spread to the lung and bone, and we have identified the genes involved in that process. These findings may enhance our ability to come up with more effective drugs to prevent or treat cancer metastasis,” said Joan Massagué, PhD, Chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at MSKCC, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and the study’s senior author.
Esther Napolitano | EurekAlert!
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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