Scientists discover the role of MAN2C1 in prostate cancer development. They found that MAN2C1 reduces another protein, which is a powerful tumour suppressor.
The finding is significant because prostate cancer patients with increased levels of MAN2C1 appear to face more aggressive forms of the disease.
"This research could serve a diagnostic purpose in terms of likelihood of whether prostate cancers at early stages will progress into metastatic tumours," said Damu Tang, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology of the McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
"Patients with high levels of MAN2C1 may need more aggressive therapies when their cancers are still at early stages in order to prevent the development of metastatic cancer," he said.
It's been known for some time that another protein, PTEN, is a powerful tumour suppressor. Clinical observations have shown that half of advanced prostate cancers either have no PTEN or reduced PTEN function.
Tang and his research team set out to understand how PTEN function becomes impaired in advanced prostate cancers. In the process, they discovered MAN2C1 and the role it plays in reducing PTEN function.
The research group found increases in the MAN2C1 protein in PTEN-positive prostate cancer cells dramatically increased the likelihood of cancers forming in mice.
The researchers concluded that increases in MAN2C1 in PTEN-positive prostate cancers enhance prostate cancer recurrence, meaning that patients with high levels of MAN2C1 have an increased risk of their tumors developing into metastatic cancer.
The study has been published in Nature Communications.