In laboratory studies, the researchers isolated a protein, caveolin-1, showing that in breast cancer cells this protein can enhance cell death in response to the use of Taxol, one of two taxane chemotherapy drugs used to treat advanced breast and ovarian cancer. But in order to work, they found the protein needs to be "switched on," or phosphorylated. The results were reported in the current (February 23) issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Their finding suggests it may eventually be possible to test individual breast cancer patients for the status of such molecular markers as caveolin-1 in their tumors to determine the efficacy-to-toxicity ratio for Taxol, said the study’s first author, postdoctoral fellow Ayesha Shajahan, Ph.D., of Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown.
"Because breast tumors are not all the same, it is important to know the cancer’s molecular makeup in order to increase the efficiency, and lower the toxicity, of chemotherapy drugs, and this work takes us some steps forward in this goal," she said. "It also offers insights into why some breast cancer cells can become resistant to therapeutic drugs."
Additionally, the study identifies caveolin-1 as a new molecular target for increasing the efficacy of taxanes, according to the study’s lead investigator, Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc., a Professor of Oncology and Physiology & Biophysics. "This is important because the taxanes are active drugs in breast cancer, so now that we know caveolin-1 is a new mechanism to explain how these drugs kill breast cancer cells, we can potentially take advantage of that fact to improve these agents."
The taxanes are Taxol (also known as paclitaxel) and Taxotere (docetaxel). Taxol was originally derived from the Pacific yew tree, and Taxotere is a semi-synthetic version of Taxol with slight chemical changes. These drugs stabilize a cell’s "microtubules," the road-like protein structures that send chemical signals to all parts of the cell, and which must be flexible if a cell is to divide. Taxanes lock these structures into place, not allowing them to change when the cell begins to divide - which is necessary for tumor growth. Research has also indicated that the drugs induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells by inactivating an "apoptosis stopping protein" called BCL2, thus stopping it from inhibiting cell death.
Caveolin-1 is a protein that is found in most cells under normal conditions and it is involved in an array of cellular events that ranges from vesicle trafficking to cell migration. It is, therefore, as a key regulator of multiple events within the cell.
In cancer, the expression level of caveolin-1 can vary depending on cell type. However, the precise role of caveolin-1 in cancer has been controversial: whether it acts as a suppressor or facilitator of tumor formation depends on the cell type. In human breast cancer, caveolin-1 has been known to act as a tumor suppressor since caveolin-1 expression is down-regulated during the primary stages of breast cancer. More recent studies indicate that that caveolin-1 expression is increased in more aggressive types of breast cancer.
Under the mentorship of Clarke, Shajahan sought to determine factors that regulate expression and function of caveolin-1 in the breast. In this study, the researchers show that in their breast cancer cell model that phosphorylated caveolin-1 increased cell death by activating other key regulators vital to both breast cancer progression and cell death, including BCL2, the same protein that Taxol works on; p21, which controls cell cycle progression; and the tumor suppressor p53.
If caveolin-1 isn’t phosphorylated, breast cancer cells appear to be resistant to Taxol treatment, the researchers conclude. "Thus, this study opens an area of investigation in our lab that will concentrate on understanding how this multi-tasking protein can serve as a marker for chemotherapeutic drug efficacy," Shajahan said.
Laura Cavender | EurekAlert!
Shrews shrink in winter and regrow in spring
24.10.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
24.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy