New biomarker highly promising for predicting breast cancer outcomes

August 25, 2014

A protein named p66ShcA shows promise as a biomarker to identify breast cancers with poor prognoses, according to research published ahead of print in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Cancer is deadly in large part due to its ability to metastasize, to travel from one organ or tissue type to another and malignantly sprout anew. The vast majority of cancer deaths are associated with metastasis.

In breast cancer, a process called "epithelial to mesenchymal transition" aids metastasis. Epithelial cells line surfaces which come into contact with the environment, such as skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Mesenchymal cells are a type of cell in embryonic tissue and in , where they form very loose contacts with one-another. Tumor cells lose mature epithelial characteristics, such as the ability to adhere to their neighbors, and gain those of the which enable them to move easily through the cellular matrix and into the blood stream. That enables their metastatic migration to distant organs and tissues.

In this study the researchers, led by Josie Ursini-Siegel of McGill University, show that the protein p66ShcA is highly enriched in breast cancers that have undergone epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

"We showed that elevated p66ShcA expression levels are strongly associated with expression of numerous epithelial to mesenchymal transition genes in all subtypes," says Ursini-Siegel. "Thus, p66ShcA may serve as one of the first prognostic biomarkers to identify poor outcome breasts cancers regardless of their molecular subtype."

The ability to predict prognosis is critical to management of treatment. A patient with a good prognosis can be spared aggressive treatment, with its oft-unpleasant side effects. But failure to apply to an aggressive tumor can lead to death.

Breast cancers stratify into at least five subtypes, each of which is associated with a different outcome. Nonetheless, earlier research showed that there is heterogeneity within the subtypes, which makes predictions of outcome based on subtype less reliable than they might otherwise be.

"By understanding the underlying mechanisms that conribute to tumor heterogeneity and metastatic progression, including the epithelial to mesenchymal transition, we hope to be better able to guide the development of prognostic and therapeutic strategies to improve patient care," says Ursini-Siegel.

Explore further: Researchers describe a new function of two molecules involved in metastasis

More information: The manuscript can be found online at mcb.asm.org/content/early/2014 … 341-14.full.pdf+html . The final version of the article is scheduled for the October 2014 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Related Stories

Researchers describe a new function of two molecules involved in metastasis

November 14, 2013
Researchers from IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) lead by Dr. Sandra Peiró have described a new function for two key molecules involved in tumor progression. Transcription factor SNAIL1 and enzyme LOXL2 ...

New breast cancer stem cell findings explain how cancer spreads

January 14, 2014
Breast cancer stem cells exist in two different states and each state plays a role in how cancer spreads, according to an international collaboration of researchers. Their finding sheds new light on the process that makes ...

Transition in cell type parallels treatment response, disease progression in breast cancer

January 31, 2013
A process that normally occurs in developing embryos – the changing of one basic cell type into another – has also been suspected of playing a role in cancer metastasis. Now a study from Massachusetts General Hospital ...

Cancer: Tumors absorb sugar for mobility

July 29, 2014
Cancer cells are gluttons. We have long known that they monopolize large amounts of sugar. More recently, it became clear that some tumor cells are also characterized by a series of features such as mobility or unlikeliness ...

Scientists identify gene that controls aggressiveness in breast cancer cells

July 3, 2013
In a discovery that sheds new light on the aggressiveness of certain breast cancers, Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a transcription factor, known as ZEB1, that is capable of converting non-aggressive basal-type ...

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.