Researchers identified a specific breast cancer bone metastasis-supporting gene
Tracking breast cancer cells on the move
- Date : 19 Jun 2012
- Topic : Breast cancer
In this week's Journal of Biological Chemistry"Paper of the Week," Roger Gomis and colleagues at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain investigated how breast cancer cells migrate to bone. In particular, they examined the role of NOG, a gene important to proper bone development. Previously, NOG was associated with bone metastasis in prostate cancer, but its specific role in breast cancer to bone metastasis remained unknown.
Metastasis requires numerous biological functions that jointly provide tumour cells from a primary site to seed and colonise a distant organ
In their paper, Gomis and colleagues provide molecular evidence showing that the BMP inhibitor, NOG, provide metastatic breast cancer cells with the ability to colonize the bone. NOG expression is acquired during the late events of metastasis, once cells have departed from the primary site, since it is not enriched in primary tumours with high risk of bone relapse. Contrary, breast cancer bone metastatic lesions do select for high levels of NOG expression compared to metastasis to the lung, liver and brain.
The study researchers showed that once breast cancer cells are on the move NOG enables them to specifically invade the bone. Using genetic approaches, they showed that when NOG is expressed in human breast cancer cells facilitates bone colonisation by fostering osteoclast differentiation, bone degradation and also contributes to metastatic lesions re-initiation.
According to the researchers, the reason why NOG expression leads to an increased potential for breast cancer to bone metastasis is because it not only affects features inherent to aggressive cancer cells (such as the ability to establish a new tumour) but also influences properties of the bone environment (such as osteoclast degeneration of bone).
These findings reveal how aggressive cancer cell autonomous and non-autonomous functions can be mechanistically coupled to greater bone metastatic potential. Expression of NOG in breast metastatic cancer cells provides them with bone colonisation capabilities. The interplay of bone microenvironment and cancer cell autonomous functions defines the selection of genes that lead to bone metastasis development.
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