Li Ma, Ph.D., assistant professor in Experimental Radiation Oncology, reports in Nature Cell Biology that the protein ZEB1 may help breast cancer cells repair DNA damage caused by radiation treatment.
Ma’s team has demonstrated how ZEB1 helps the wily tumor cells push the panic button.
“The cancer stem cells have been shown to promote radioresistance through activation of the DNA damage response system,” says Ma. “Our studies have shown that ZEB1 can induce a process that allows certain tumors to acquire cancer stem cell properties, including radioresistance.”
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and a scholar award from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.