Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


'Cancer prognosis gene' found to control the fate of breast cells

Scientists have discovered an unsuspected role for a gene known to be one of the best predictors of human breast cancer outcome.

The gene, called GATA-3, is in a family of genes that guides development of stem cells into mature cells. University of California, San Francisco researchers have now found that GATA-3 is also required for mature mammary cells to remain mature in the adult. In research focusing on mice mammary glands, they found that without GATA-3, mature cells revert to a less specialized, “undifferentiated” state characteristic of aggressive cancer.

The new finding suggests that this gene may play a key role in the development of breast cancer, the scientists report in the December 1 issue of the journal CELL.

Cancer researchers know that breast cancers with high GATA-3 expression have a good prognosis. The cancers tend to be well-differentiated – retaining estrogen receptors and other characteristics of normal mature breast cells. Cancers with low GATA-3 expression tend to be poorly differentiated, with a poor prognosis. The new research may explain why this is so.

... more about:
»GATA-3 »mammary »prognosis

“Perhaps the loss of GATA-3 and subsequent failure to maintain this mature state is what leads to loss of differentiation during cancer progression,” said Hosein Kouros-Mehr, PhD, a medical student at UCSF and lead author of the new study. “This gene is part of the instruction manual that controls how a stem cell can mature into a normal mammary cell and remain that way for its lifetime. The finding suggests that the differentiation, or maturity, of cells is a process that must be actively maintained throughout the lifetime of an organism.”

How GATA-3 controls cell fate, and its possible role in breast cancer is now the focus of the team's research.

The UCSF study is part of the work of the Bay Area Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, one of four centers funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The UCSF scientists found that when the GATA-3 gene activity was knocked out in adult mice, the mammary ductal cells - the principal cell type in breast cancer - regressed to a less differentiated state, which is one of the hallmarks of invasive, metastatic cancer. The cells began to proliferate uncontrollably and then died within the ducts of the mammary gland, they reported.

Previously, little was known about the differentiation of the ductal cells, also known as luminal cells, which form the lining of the breast ducts that carry milk during lactation. The researchers carried out a screen of all genes active in the mammary ducts during puberty and found that GATA-3 was the most abundant transcription factor – a gene that directs the activation of other genes. They further found the GATA-3 protein in all luminal cells of mature mammary ducts, both in mice at puberty and in adult virgin mice.

“We are very excited because we now know that it is not enough for cells to become breast cells but they need an active program to remain in their specialized state and perhaps be kept from wandering off,” said Zena Werb, PhD, professor and vice chair of anatomy and senior author of the paper. “Maybe we should view cancer as telling us what cells become if they lose their ‘homesteading’ genes and then start wandering.”

The scientists hope that further investigation of the precise role of GATA-3 in breast cancer can identify new ways of understanding, diagnosing and treating the disease.

Wallace Ravven | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: GATA-3 mammary prognosis

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>