Protein inhibits cancer cell growth

December 21, 2009 By Chris Garbutt

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of Toronto and Goethe University in Germany have discovered a protein that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, providing crucial clues for the future development of new drugs to treat the disease.

The protein, called HDAC6, controls the stability of the (EGFR), a key player in cancer.

"Our teams discovered that HDAC6 acts as a molecular brake to shut down the expression of the human EGFR," said Professor Igor Stagljar of biochemistry and , one of the lead authors of a study published in the Dec. 22 issue of the journal Science Signaling. Professor Ivan Dikic at Goethe University was co-lead on the study.

"Since EGFR is overactive in breast, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers, this discovery can open new avenues for ," said Stagljar, a principal investigator at U of T's Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

EGFR is nestled into the cell membrane on the surface of human where, after it gets activated by molecules called ligands, causes cells to divide. In several cancer cell types, the activity of this receptor is dramatically increased, which stimulates cells to grow rapidly and out of control. Because of its key role in driving the proliferation of cells, EGFR is a target of several currently in development, as well as several approved therapies.

To study the cellular role of EGFR in human cells, Stagljar's lab first developed a technology called MYTH, a unique test that can monitor interactions between membrane proteins. This technology can reveal proteins that tightly associate with EGFR on the cell surface. Using MYTH, the researchers identified more than 80 proteins that interact, and presumably communicate, with the human EGFR. Among them was a cytosolic protein, HDAC6, which they showed helps in stabilizing EGFR in human cells.

"These findings offer fresh insight into how HDAC6 regulates EGFR degradation and provides clues for the design of improved cancer therapies," Stagljar said. Specifically, a carefully planned combinatorial chemotherapy that inhibits both the EGFR receptor and its newly identified "brake" (HDAC6) could have a beneficial effect for treating breast, lung, colon, and pancreatic cancers.

In the next phase of their research, Stagljar and his colleagues plan to extend the MYTH technology to interrogate all human receptors that regulate cell proliferation and are therefore implicated in the onset of . Such a global analysis of proteins that associate with human cell surface receptors may provide novel avenues for the treatment of different types of cancers.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Stem cell therapy attacks cancer by targeting unique tissue stiffness

July 26, 2017
A stem cell-based method created by University of California, Irvine scientists can selectively target and kill cancerous tissue while preventing some of the toxic side effects of chemotherapy by treating the disease in a ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.