Breast stem cell fate is regulated by 'notch'

Oct 08, 2008

A normal developmental protein that sometimes goes awry has been implicated in breast cancer. This discovery indicates the mechanism by which inappropriate expression of the Notch pathway may contribute to breast cancer.

The breast cancer team at WEHI, led by Drs Jane Visvader and Geoff Lindeman from the Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium, have identified important roles for Notch genes in regulating breast development and function.

This discovery has important implications for breast cancer, since elevated levels of Notch have been linked to breast cancer. The advance builds on the group's 2006 discovery of the breast stem cell in mice.

Research carried out by Drs Toula Bouras and Bhupinder Pal has uncovered dual functions for Notch in breast tissue.

First, Notch helps restrict breast stem cell number, so that when Notch is 'switched off', there is a resultant expansion in breast stem cells.

Second, Notch is important for ensuring that stem cells produce the sleeve of cells that normally line breast ducts. These 'luminal' cells may be the cells that give rise to common types of breast cancer.

Thus, Notch helps to orchestrate the formation of breast tissue: it plays an important role in controlling stem cell number and instructs stem cells to produce luminal cells.

Significantly, Dr Bouras and colleagues found that errant activation of Notch resulted in uncontrolled growth of luminal precursors, leading to the formation of breast tumours.

The work has spotlighted the potential importance of deregulated Notch in ductal precursor cells as a forerunner to breast cancer.

The researchers say that it is too early to speculate on whether the design of anti-Notch therapies could help patients facing breast cancer.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Champagne physicist reveals the secrets of bubbly

Sep 18, 2012

Gerard Liger-Belair lives in a bubble, and he doesn't care who knows it. Bubbles are his passion. And they have given the 41-year-old French scientist arguably the best job in all of physics.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Oct 08, 2008
'HEAT",is required for lactation and accelerates mitosis also! Has anyone monitored the temperature or tried COOLING the breast to slow mitosis? (Suggest cool water baths, GROUNDED to avoid metastisis). (from Engineer, NOT doctor!)

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.