How cool is this? What if we can change how fast and far prostate cancer cells can metastasize by changing a single protein. The lead article in this months Oncotarget describes how prostate cancer moves in our bodies, and what we might be able to do to prevent metastatic cancer.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is the scientific description for the process of cells moving from their primary tumor site to another part of our body. One of the proteins that starts EMT is called transforming growth factor β (TGFβ). TGFβ then starts up Snail1.
The Oncotarget study, carried out by researchers from two Swedish universities, Umeå University and Uppsala University showed that changing a single amino acid – the building block that makes up proteins – can alter Snail1 and make cancer cells grown in the lab more invasive. This change, called ‘sumoylation,’ attaches small proteins, which change the structure and function of Snail1. Best news is that if you stop metastases if you stop the sumoylation of Snail1
“These results suggest that sumoylation of Snail1 might be a marker for prostate cancer progression,” said Professor Marene Landström. “As sumoylation inhibitors are currently being tested to combat the development of breast cancer tumors, it would be interesting to see the effects of targeting Snail1 sumoylation in prostate cancer.”
More information: Shyam Kumar Gudey et al, Pro-invasive properties of Snail1 are regulated by sumoylation in response to TGFβ stimulation in cancer, Oncotarget (2017). DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.20097