The loss of a protein makes 'jump' the tumor to the lymph node

March 6, 2012

Metastasis is responsible for 90% of deaths in patients with cancer. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for this process is one of the top goals of cancer research. The metastatic process involves a series of steps chained where the primary tumour invades surrounding tissues and ends spreading throughout the body. Ones of the first tissues undergoing metastasis are the lymph nodes surrounding the tumour.

A study, led by the researcher at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Manel Esteller, published in the Journal of Pathology, had identified a mechanism that explains how escape from its original site to the . Investigations have uncovered that metastatic tumour cells that grow in the lymph nodes of patients with melanoma and head and neck tumours lose the activity of a protein called cadherin-11.

The normal function of this protein is to act as the anchor of a ship to fix the cells in a specific position and prevent movement. Inactivation of cadherin-11 gene causes the loss of this fixation and "jump" to neighboring organs and structures, such as lymph nodes.

The study is an example of translational and multidisciplinary research, involving basic research laboratories, the medical oncology service at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Pathology Service of the Bellvitge University Hospital.

The study coordinated by the director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program at IDIBELL, ICREA researcher and professor at the University of Barcelona, Manel Esteller, also proposes that the process can be reversed because, in models in vitro and in vivo, the recovery of cadherin-11 caused a slowing of tumour growth and decreased ability to generate metastases.

This possibility needs to be studied in international clinical trials, but it is a promising starting point in studying the biology of metastasis and how to act therapeutically in this area.

Explore further: Why cancer cells change their appearance?

More information: Carmona FJ, Villanueva A, Vidal A, Muñoz C, Puertas S, Penin RM, Gomà M, Lujambio A, Piulats JM, Mesía R, Sánchez-Céspedes M, Manós M, Condom E, Eccles SA, Esteller M. Epigenetic Disruption of Cadherin-11 in Human Cancer Metastasis. The Journal of Pathology. 2012 Feb 28. doi: 10.1002/path.4011

Related Stories

Why cancer cells change their appearance?

September 2, 2011
Like snakes, tumour cells shed their skin. Cancer is not a static disease but during its development the disease accumulates changes to evade natural defences adapting to new environmental circumstances, protecting against ...

Researchers characterize epigenetic fingerprint of 1,628 people

June 2, 2011
Until a decade, it was believed that differences between people were due solely to the existence of genetic changes, which are alterations in the sequence of our genes. The discoveries made during these last ten years show ...

Evidence strengthens link between NSAIDs and reduced cancer metastasis

February 13, 2012
A new study reveals key factors that promote the spread of cancer to lymph nodes and provides a mechanism that explains how a common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can reduce the spread of tumor cells through ...

Breaking down cancer's defense for future vaccines

February 23, 2012
Researchers at the EPFL have identified an important mechanism that could lead to the design of more effective cancer vaccines. Their discovery of a new-found role of the lymphatic system in tumour growth shows how tumours ...

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

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.