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When oxygen is short, EGFR thwarts cancer-fighting machinery

Prevents tumor suppressors in cells from maturing

Promise - Summer 2013

Prevents tumor suppressors in cells from maturing

Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D.Under conditions of oxygen starvation often encountered by tumors, the cancer-promoting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gums up the cell’s tumor-suppressing microRNA (miRNA)-processing machinery, an international team led by MD Anderson scientists has discovered.

“When hypoxia stresses a cell, EGFR signaling prevents immature miRNAs from growing up to fight cancer,” says senior author Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D., MD Anderson professor and chair of Molecular and Cellular Oncology and holder of the Ruth Legett Jones Distinguished Chair.

The group’s findings point to a potential new prognostic marker for breast cancer, Hung notes, and also provide the first evidence of a growth factor signaling pathway regulating miRNA maturation.

This research was funded by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, MD Anderson’s Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. National Breast Cancer Foundation, MD Anderson’s Center for Biological Pathways, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Sister Institution Fund of China Medical University and Hospital and MD Anderson, the Taiwan Cancer Research Center of Excellence, a Private University grant from Taiwan and the Taiwan Program for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Frontier Research.

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