In a study published online this week in Oncogene, the researchers report that estrogen induces the expression of an inhibitor that blocks immune cells’ ability to kill tumor cells. This is the first study to identify estrogen’s role in shielding breast cancer cells from the action of immune cells.
The researchers analyzed estrogen’s role in the cascade of events that occurs when immune cells, called natural killer cells, encounter a tumor cell. Under normal conditions, natural killer cells release granules that contain enzymes, called granzymes, which enter and kill the tumor cell.
The research team found that when estrogen binds to an estrogen receptor the complex promotes production of a granzyme inhibitor, proteinase inhibitor 9 (PI-9). The inhibitor binds the granzyme, preventing it from initiating the molecular cascade that kills tumor cells.
“It wasn’t known that estrogen could do this in breast cancer cells,” said principal investigator David J. Shapiro, a professor of biochemistry in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “The amounts of estrogen required to do this are quite small.”
U. of I. graduate student Xinguo Jiang also found that when breast cancer cells that contain very high levels of estrogen receptor protein are exposed to low levels of estrogen, they produce large quantities of the granzyme inhibitor and become highly resistant to immune attack.
The researchers were able to show that estrogen’s effect on PI-9 production was the sole mechanism by which estrogen interfered with the natural killer cells’ ability to kill off breast cancer cells. They did so by blocking PI-9 production in the breast cancer cells exposed to estrogen. When these breast cancer cells were targeted by natural killer cells, they were efficiently killed off, even when significant levels of estrogen and estrogen receptor were present.
Estrogens are known to cause only a few types of cancers, Shapiro said. PI-9 also has been implicated in other cancers. High levels of PI-9 in some lymphomas, for example, are associated with poor prognoses.
This study demonstrates how basic research can have important and unanticipated implications for understanding diseases such as breast cancer, Shapiro said. The finding that estrogens stimulate PI-9 production could eventually help drug designers develop new tests – and targets – for breast cancer therapy.
The research team included collaborators from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Editor’s note: To reach David J. Shapiro, call 217-333-1788; e-mail: email@example.com.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
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...
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...
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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences