Researchers have discovered a key molecular mechanism for the deadly transition of non-invasive breast cancer into invasive disease.
This transition is recognized as a crucial step in metastasis, the spread of cancer to distant organs that causes 90% of all cancer deaths.
Researchers have shown that the protein 14-3-3ζ teams with the oncoprotein ErbB2, also known as HER2, in a two-hit process to convert normal mammary cells to invasive cancer cells, says Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D., professor in
MD Anderson’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.
In addition to identifying this key step, Yu notes the findings also provide a biomarker to identify high-risk patients who may benefit from more aggressive treatment before their non-invasive breast cancer converts to invasive disease.
Yu and colleagues previously showed that 14-3-3ζ is overexpressed in many other cancer types, like lung, liver, uterine and stomach cancers. “Our findings might have broader implications relating to the mechanism of invasion and metastasis in other types of cancer,” Yu says.
Reported in the Sept. 9, 2009, edition of the journal Cancer Cell.