Protein plays a critical role in the development of aggressive breast cancer

April 20, 2010

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have identified a potentially significant molecular player in the development of aggressive breast cancer. The team's findings show that a protein called NEDD9 is critical in the formation of breast tumors induced by high levels of the cell-surface receptor HER2/neu in mice. HER2-driven breast cancer is known to be one the most aggressive forms of the disease.

Joy L. Little, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Erica A. Golemis, Ph.D., at Fox Chase Cancer Center, will present the findings at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

In mice engineered to overexpress the HER2/neu gene, Little and her colleagues found that 89% of mice with the Nedd9 gene developed tumors over an 18-month period. In comparison, only 29% of mice without the Nedd9 gene developed tumors. These findings indicate a novel role for NEDD9 in tumor initiation.

"There is a lot of research describing contributors to , but it is always truly exciting when studies show that the loss or absence of something prevents cancer from occurring," says Little. "The fact that in the majority of our animals, HER2-driven tumors don't form without NEDD9 is new information we can use to view NEDD9 as a potential . If tumors show higher levels of NEDD9, it could be they are more aggressive."

Based on the data collected, researchers are now poised to delve deeper into discovering what about the biology of NEDD9 makes it crucial in the formation stages of HER2-driven tumors. Pharmacological targeting of NEDD9 could also be therapeutically relevant, Little notes.

Explore further: Even tiny breast tumors can be aggressive and may require maximum therapy

Related Stories

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells

July 9, 2008

A gene that is overexpressed in 20 percent of breast cancers increases the number of cancer stem cells, the cells that fuel a tumor's growth and spread, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive ...

Researchers discover a key to aggressive breast cancer

October 30, 2008

In trying to find out why HER2-positive breast cancer can be more aggressive than other forms of the disease, UC Davis Cancer Center researchers have surprisingly discovered that HER2 itself is the culprit. By shutting down ...

NEDD9 protein supports growth of aggressive breast cancer

October 2, 2009

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have demonstrated that a protein called NEDD9 may be required for some of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer to grow. Their findings, based on the study of a mouse model of breast ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.