Scientists shed light on a tumor-suppressive protein in metastases

December 6, 2017, VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)

A new study conducted at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology in Belgium has labeled the protein Caveolin-1 as a high-potential target in the fight against cancer. Many research projects have already implicated this protein in both tumor-promotive and suppressive functions, but its exact role remained elusive. By examining macrophages at the sites of metastases, the scientists have now described the anti-metastatic surveillance role of Caveolin-1 for the first time.

The new paper, published in Cell Reports, was conducted by a team led by prof. Massimiliano Mazzone (VIB-KU Leuven). His lab has been focusing on the tumor microenvironment for some time now, gradually disentangling topics such as tumor oxygen shortage, angiogenesis (the formation of blood vessels) and (a type of white blood cell) and anti- immunity.

While the role of tumor-associated macrophages at each step of is already well established, the biology of metastasis-associated macrophages, their counterparts at the sites of cancer metastases, has been neglected. Understanding this field, however, is of the utmost relevance, as metastases cause no less than 90 percent of human cancer deaths.

In this research, the team describes for the first time the mechanism of Caveolin-1 in metastatic macrophages. They saw that upregulation of this protein in the lung environment clearly hinders metastatic growth.

Prof. Mazzone of VIB-KU Leuven says, "A surprising outcome, since macrophages are traditionally associated with cancer progression. But at the same time, the anti-metastatic, patrolling function of Caveolin-1 makes sense when one considers the relevance of the immune system in the lungs as the first barrier against (inhaled) pathogens and external bodies. You could say Caveolin-1 is a gatekeeper: high expression can protect the body against foreign bodies and diseases, while downregulation is prometastatic."

Previous studies associated the loss of Caveolin-1 with more aggressive proliferation and worse patient outcomes in several types of cancer. Prof. Mazzone's findings directly confirm the suggestion that this protein may yield promising therapeutic perspectives.

Prof. Mazzone (VIB-KU Leuven): "We have now learned that there is a huge difference in immunity at the metastasis compared to the primary tumor. And since metastasis is what kills most cancer patients, this research avenue deserves much more attention."

Explore further: Scientists reveal link between cell metabolism and the spread of cancer

More information: Loss of Caveolin-1 in metastasis-associated macrophages drives lung metastatic growth through increased angiogenesis, Celus et al., Cell Reports 2017.

Related Stories

Scientists reveal link between cell metabolism and the spread of cancer

October 20, 2016
Scientists at VIB and KU Leuven have discovered a crucial factor in the spread of cancer. A team led by professor Massimiliano Mazzone has demonstrated that the metabolism of macrophages, a particular type of white blood ...

Researchers identify phosphorylation process vital to cancer growth

February 14, 2017
Scientists at VIB-KU Leuven have identified a new mechanism that impacts tumor growth. The typical lack of oxygen in tumors doesn't only stimulate proliferation, but also offsets the important role of the protein PHD2 as ...

Anti-tumor activity of immune cells can be restored

December 10, 2013
The Leuven-based VIB researchers have revealed a mechanism that explains why the anti-tumor activity of specific immune cells called macrophages is suppressed during tumor growth. They have also demonstrated that blocking ...

Uncovering the mechanisms that support the spread of ovarian cancer

October 10, 2016
A very high mortality rate is associated with ovarian cancer, in part due to difficulties in detecting and diagnosing the disease at early stages before tumors have spread, or metastasized, to other locations in the body.

Key driver of metastasis identified

October 31, 2011
Scientists at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia have identified a key mechanism of metastasis that could lead to blocking tumor growth if their findings are confirmed.

Mitochondrial metastasis suppressor pathway controls tumor cell metabolic reprogramming

September 11, 2017
A novel mitochondrial variant of the protein Syntaphilin, or SNPH, which orchestrates the choice between cancer cell proliferation and metastasis in response to oxygen and nutrient shortage in the tumor microenvironment, ...

Recommended for you

Delving where few others have gone, leukemia researchers open new path

October 15, 2018
A Wilmot Cancer Institute study uncovers how a single gene could be at fault in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest cancers. The breakthrough gives researchers renewed hope that a gene-targeted therapy could ...

3-D mammography detected 34% more breast cancers in screening

October 15, 2018
In traditional mammography screening, all breast tissue is captured in a single image. Breast tomosynthesis, on the other hand, is three-dimensional and works according to the same principle as what is known as tomography. ...

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer

October 15, 2018
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process—changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding—uses a molecular process believed ...

Cancer stem cells use 'normal' genes in abnormal ways

October 12, 2018
CDK1 is a "normal" protein—its presence drives cells through the cycle of replication. And MHC Class I molecules are "normal" as well—they present bits of proteins on the surfaces of cells for examination by the immune ...

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

Potential therapy for treatment-resistant hypothyroidism proves effective in lab study

October 12, 2018
A new "metal-coordinated" drug-delivery technology potentially could be used to supplement the standard therapy for hypothyroidism, which affects nearly 10 million Americans, and many more patients worldwide, according to ...

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.