Fragile X syndrome protein linked to breast cancer progression

September 18, 2013

A research team led by scientists from VIB/KU Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, in collaboration with several research centers and hospitals in Italy, the United Kingdom and, Belgium, has identified the way Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein or FMRP contributes to the progression of breast cancer. The researchers demonstrated that FMRP acts as a master switch controlling the levels of several proteins involved in different stages of aggressive breast cancer, including the invasion of cancer cells into blood vessels and the spread of these cancer cells to other tissues. The work is published on-line in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

The authors identified high levels of FMRP in human tissue microarrays and also examined the effects of FMRP levels in a mouse model to study breast cancer. In these mice, high levels of FMRP in primary breast were also linked to the spread of the cancer to the lungs and the development of secondary metastasis; in contrast, reduction of FMRP led to a decrease in metastasis.

The role of FMRP is well known in the brain, where its absence leads to Fragile X Syndrome, the most prevalent form of inherited in humans. The present study explored the direct relationship between the levels of FMRP and the progression of breast cancer.

"Previous studies indicated that patients with Fragile X Syndrome had a decreased risk of developing cancer but little is known about the molecular events that lead to this beneficial effect. We showed that high levels of the FMRP protein in human breast tissue samples are linked to increased risk of breast cancer and the spread of the disease to other tissues throughout the body," EMBO Member Claudia Bagni from VIB/KU Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Rome, Italy, who led the study, remarked. "Our results suggest that FMRP acts as a master regulator of a large group of mRNAs that are involved in multiple steps of cancer progression".

The researchers suggest that the levels of FMRP might be used as an indicator of aggressive breast cancer and could be used to predict the likelihood of the spread of cancer to other organs like the lung. In the study, the authors found that FMRP levels correlate with the highly aggressive Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and has a poor prognosis. It often comes back years after treatment and spreads throughout the body.

The paper is titled "The Fragile X Protein binds mRNAs involved in and modulates metastasis formation."

Explore further: Alternative target for breast cancer drugs

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … m.201302847/abstract

Related Stories

Alternative target for breast cancer drugs

July 19, 2013
Scientists have identified higher levels of a receptor protein found on the surface of human breast tumour cells that may serve as a new drug target for the treatment of breast cancer. The results, which are published today ...

New approach in the treatment of breast cancer

August 8, 2013
Scientists at the MedUni Vienna, in collaboration with a working group led by Nancy Hynes at the University of Basel, have discovered a new approach in the treatment of breast cancer: an international team involving the Clinical ...

Protein predicts breast cancer prognosis

August 29, 2013
Researchers have identified a protein that they believe may help predict breast cancer prognosis, potentially relieving thousands of women at low risk from having to undergo painful, oft-debilitating therapies, while insuring ...

Drug used for blood cancers may stop spread of breast cancer cells

August 22, 2013
A drug used to treat blood cancers may also stop the spread of invasive breast cancer, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida have discovered. Their study, published online in Breast Cancer Research, found that in the lab ...

Enhanced luminal breast tumor response to antiestrogen therapy

September 3, 2013
Breast cancer can be divided into 4 major subtypes using molecular and genetic information from the tumors. Each subtype is associated with different prognosis and should be taken into consideration when making treatment ...

Scientists find promising new target for aggressive breast cancer

March 20, 2013
Women with triple-negative breast cancer are more likely to have high levels of the MET biomarker in their tumours, making it a good new target for cancer drugs according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer, ...

Recommended for you

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

Newest data links inflammation to chemo-brain

December 14, 2017
Inflammation in the blood plays a key role in "chemo-brain," according to a published pilot study that provides evidence for what scientists have long believed.

One in five young colon cancer patients have genetic link

December 13, 2017
As doctors grapple with increasing rates of colorectal cancers in young people, new research from the University of Michigan may offer some insight into how the disease developed and how to prevent further cancers. Researchers ...

New strategy for unleashing cancer-fighting power of p53 gene

December 13, 2017
Tumor protein p53 is one of the most critical determinants of the fate of cancer cells, as it can determine whether a cell lives or dies in response to stress. In a new study published today in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

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.