A research team in Taiwan had uncovered a key oncogene that controls the spread and metastasis of cancer cells, which might lead to new approaches in developing anticancer drugs.
The paraspeckle component (PSPC1) gene, which is often highly prevalent in the final stages of cancer, is a key regulatory gene for controlling the deterioration and spread of cancer, according to a press release Wednesday from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Taiwan's "Academia Sinica."
Tumor metastasis and the invasion of cancer cells are the main causes of death in cancer patients.
Previous studies have shown that the activation of the Transforming Growth Factor beta 1, a secreted protein that performs various cellular functions, is key to cancer metastasis. The protein controls cell growth and apoptosis in normal cells, but acts in the opposite manner in cancerous cells.
To understand the protein's function, the team studied and analyzed tissue samples of malignant tumors from lung cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and prostate cancer to look for gene mutations, abnormalities, and other factors related to the survival rate of patients.
In their analysis, they found that in normal cells, PSPC1 is expressed in low levels, and the secreted protein functions normally, inhibiting cell proliferation; however, when expressed in high levels in cancer cells, PSPC1 creates a favorable environment for the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
Poor prognosis and low survival rates in cancer patients are also highly correlated with the high rates of PSPC1.
Dr. Yuh-Shan Jou, corresponding author and a research fellow at the institute, noted that if the high rates of PSPC1 could be suppressed, both cancer cell growth and proliferation could be reduced.
The study was published online in "Nature Cell Biology" in March and highlighted as a featured article in its April issue.