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

Mechanism that drives development of liver cancer brought on by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease discovered

April 19, 2018
A team of researchers from several institutions in China has found a mechanism that appears to drive the development of a type of liver cancer not caused by alcohol consumption. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

An artificial mole as an early warning system

April 18, 2018
Alongside cardiovascular disease, cancer has become the top cause of death in industrialised countries. Many of those affected are diagnosed only after the tumour has developed extensively. This often reduces the chance of ...

Delivering cancer treatment on a nanodisc helps eliminate tumors

April 18, 2018
In the wrestling match with cancer, chemoimmunotherapy is the new strong arm, and it is building muscle with a nanodisc disguised as "good cholesterol."

Spouses can boost early detection for melanoma patients

April 18, 2018
There's an extra bonus to marriage for melanoma patients: They tend to be diagnosed in earlier more treatable stages than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced, a new study says.

Scientists discover sweet spot of activity in immune system key to fighting cancer

April 18, 2018
Scientists at the University of Southampton have shown how stimulating a specific location on the surface of immune cells can be targeted with antibodies to help in their fight against cancer.

Potential lines of attack against prostate cancer

April 17, 2018
Researchers from The University of East Anglia (UEA) have contributed to the world's largest study into genes that drive prostate cancer – identifying 80 molecular weaknesses that could be targeted by drugs to treat the ...

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.