Study discovers proteins which suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors

June 12, 2017
High Grade Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) and normal breast stained for PRH (red) are pictured. Credit: University of Birmingham

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found that a type of protein could hold the secret to suppressing the growth of breast cancer tumours.

The research, published today in Oncogenesis, examined the role Proline-Rich Homeodomain protein (PRH) can play in the progression of tumours and could, in turn, help to better determine the prognosis for patients with the disease.

Dr Padma Sheela Jayaraman, of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, said: "PRH is a protein that controls and regulates when genes are switched on or off.

"However, prior to our research, the role of this protein in breast has been poorly understood.

"Public databases show that, in a large number of with a poor prognosis, the activity of the PRH gene had decreased.

"However, it was not known whether the amount of PRH protein was also lower in these patients as protein levels had not been recorded."

The researchers used a special staining process on breast cancer tissue removed during biopsy to observe the levels and location of PRH proteins in . They found that in a small study there were changes in PRH proteins in compared to normal cells that were consistent with the decreased activity of the PRH gene in the public database.

Dr Jayaraman added: "In the laboratory, we found that when PRH protein levels are reduced in a the cells are more able to divide, speeding up the progression of the tumour.

"Moreover, we identified some of the genes which are regulated by PRH and specifically contribute to the increased cell division."

The researchers also carried out tests in a tumour model of mammary cancers, increasing PRH levels to observe the effect.

"We made the significant finding that high levels of PRH actually blocked the formation of the tumours, therefore our data suggests that PRH can block tumour formation in some breast cancers," added Dr Jayaraman.

"We propose that monitoring PRH levels or activity in patients with breast cancer could be particularly important for assessing their prognosis.

"In addition, since PRH is known to be important in multiple cell types, this work has important implications for other types of cancer.

"We are now working to investigate the importance of PRH in prostate cancer and in cancer of the bile duct, a type of liver cancer."

Explore further: Signalling protein plays different roles in breast cancer and normal cells

More information: R M Kershaw et al, Proline-Rich Homeodomain protein (PRH/HHEX) is a suppressor of breast tumour growth, Oncogenesis (2017). DOI: 10.1038/oncsis.2017.42

Related Stories

Signalling protein plays different roles in breast cancer and normal cells

June 20, 2014
A key step in developing effective cancer therapies is identifying differences between normal, healthy cells and cancer cells – these differences can then be exploited to specifically kill tumour cells.

Researchers identify potential anti–cancer target

June 3, 2016
University of Queensland researchers have discovered a key driver in the development of most cancers, including breast, lung, liver and ovarian cancers.

Cartilage protein may contribute to the development of breast cancer

April 13, 2016
Research from Lund University in Sweden shows that the protein COMP, which mainly exists in cartilage, can also be found in breast cancer tumours in patients with a poor prognosis. Studies on mice also showed that COMP contributed ...

Protein research uncovers potential new diagnosis and therapy for breast cancer

October 8, 2015
Scientists at the University of York, using clinical specimens from charity Breast Cancer Now's Tissue Bank, have conducted new research into a specific sodium channel that indicates the presence of cancer cells and affects ...

Study find loss of certain protein is associated with poor prognosis in breast, lung cancer

January 30, 2015
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have found that breast and lung cancer patients who have low levels of a protein called tristetraprolin (TTP) have more aggressive tumors and a poorer prognosis than those with high levels ...

Discovering a new role for a breast cancer gene

January 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the School of Biosciences have identified an unexpected role for a tumour-associated gene in breast cancer.

Recommended for you

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

Popular immunotherapy target turns out to have a surprising buddy

August 16, 2017
The majority of current cancer immunotherapies focus on PD-L1. This well studied protein turns out to be controlled by a partner, CMTM6, a previously unexplored molecule that is now suddenly also a potential therapeutic target. ...

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.