Two molecules that enable cancer to spread inside the body have been identified by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
The findings could eventually lead to therapies that prevent metastasis by inactivating the molecules.
The regulatory molecules are involved in forming invadopodia, the protrusions that enable tumor cells to turn metastatic - by becoming motile, degrading extracellular material, penetrating blood vessels and, ultimately, seeding themselves in other parts of the body.
Senior author John Condeelis, co-chair and professor of anatomy and structural biology, co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and holder of the Judith, and his team identified two molecules (p190RhoGEF and p190RhoGAP) that regulate the activity of RhoC, an enzyme that plays a crucial role during tumor metastasis and that has been identified as a biomarker for invasive breast cancer.
"In vitro as well as in vivo studies have shown that RhoC's activity is positively correlated with increased invasion and motility of tumor cells," said corresponding author Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of Condeelis and assistant professor Louis Hodgson, in the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and the department of anatomy and structural biology.
"The new players we've identified as regulating RhoC could serve as therapeutic drug targets in efforts to block tumor metastasis," added Bravo-Cordero.
The study has been published in the Current Biology.