New understanding of why cancer cells move

December 27, 2017, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Joe W. Ramos, deputy director of the UH Cancer Center. Credit: University of Hawaii Cancer Center

A University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researcher has identified how some cancer cells are made to move during metastasis. The research provides a better understanding of how cancer spreads and may create new opportunities for cancer drug development.

Metastasis causes the deaths of 90 percent of . The spread of cancer by is driven by a set of mutant proteins called oncogenes which cause to multiply uncontrollably and promotes their ability to move. How oncogene activity specifically directs the increased movement and metastasis is highly complex and remains largely unknown.

Joe W. Ramos, PhD, deputy director of the UH Cancer Center and collaborators focused on investigating how these oncogenes and related signals lead to dysregulation of normal processes within the cell and activate highly mobile and invasive cancer cell behavior.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), define a mechanism in which the oncogenes turn on a protein called RSK2 that is required for cancer cells to move. Ramos and colleagues found that the RSK2 protein forms a signaling hub that includes proteins called LARG and RhoA. They show that turning on this signaling hub activates the movement of the cancer cells. These results significantly advance understanding of how cancer cells are made to move during metastasis and may provide more precise targets for drugs to stop in patients where there are oncogenic mutations.

"These new data are very exciting. Blocking cancer invasion and metastasis remains a central challenge in treating patients. We anticipate that this research may lead to new therapeutic opportunities for brain tumors, melanoma, and breast cancer among others. We are currently focused on these opportunities and developing new compounds to target this signaling hub," said Ramos.

Explore further: Researchers discover protein that may control the spread of cancer

More information: Geng-Xian Shi et al, RSK2 drives cell motility by serine phosphorylation of LARG and activation of Rho GTPases, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1708584115

Related Stories

Researchers discover protein that may control the spread of cancer

February 26, 2013
Researchers at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center have uncovered a novel mechanism that may lead to more selective ways to stop cancer cells from spreading. Associate Professor Joe W. Ramos PhD, a cancer biologist at ...

PUMA pathway is a weak link in breast cancer metastasis

December 11, 2017
Substantial advancements have improved the success of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments for primary breast cancers. However, breast cancer that has spread, or metastasized, to other parts of the body remains ...

Researchers find new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer

November 15, 2016
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age. The discovery can help researchers ...

Essential protein for metastasis identified

April 5, 2017
An essential protein that regulates our heart beat turns out to be important for cancer cells as well. The discovery might open novel treatment strategies for fighting metastasis. Publication in Science Signaling on April ...

Research team identifies role for a microRNA involved in prostate cancer metastasis

January 25, 2017
Metastasis, or spread of a tumor from the site of origin to additional organs, causes the vast majority of cancer-related deaths, but our understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind metastasis remains limited. A research ...

Researchers identify protein required for breast cancer metastasis

November 15, 2016
Researchers have identified a new pathway and with it a protein, BRD4, necessary for breast cancer cells to spread.

Recommended for you

RNA thought to spread cancer shows ability to suppress breast cancer metastasis

October 22, 2018
Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that a form of RNA called metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1) appears to suppress breast cancer metastasis in mice, ...

Revealing the molecular mystery of human liver cells

October 22, 2018
A map of the cells in the human liver has been created by University Health Network Transplant Program and University of Toronto researchers, revealing for the first time differences between individual cells at the molecular ...

Targeting a hunger hormone to treat obesity

October 22, 2018
About 64 per cent of Canadian adults are overweight or obese, according to Health Canada. That's a problem, because obesity promotes the emergence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

New tool gives deeper understanding of glioblastoma

October 22, 2018
Researchers in the lab of Charles Danko at the Baker Institute for Animal Health have developed a new tool to study genetic "switches" active in glioblastoma tumors that drive growth of the cancer. In a new paper in Nature ...

Pancreatic cancer genetic marker may predict outcomes with radiation therapy

October 22, 2018
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Now, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center—Jefferson Health and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research scientists find ...

New drug combination destroys chemo-resistant blood cancer

October 22, 2018
Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have developed a promising targeted strategy to treat chemotherapy-resistant acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and a diagnostic test to determine which AML patients ...

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.