Biologists have discovered a signaling scheme, according to which the spread of metastases occurs in breast cancer. “Communication” between CCL2 and TGF-β molecules plays a leading role in it – they stimulate each other and ensure the release of cancerous structures into the circulatory system. In addition, scientists have identified a gene blocking system: if it is affected, it is possible to block the spread of breast cancer.
Breast cancer occupies a leading position in terms of prevalence among all oncological pathologies. The main role in such a “popularity” of the disease is played by the effect of hormones: early puberty, late menopause, metabolic disorders, and prolonged use of hormonal drugs become significant factors. For example, hormones, by activating the processes of cell proliferation, simultaneously increase the risk of DNA damage, which often contributes to the development of malignant diseases.
Signaling molecules are involved in the physiological regulation of many functions. Information is transmitted between cells and within them, which, for example, is typical for cytokines. In the course of scientific work, it was found that in patients with breast cancer, the quality of the functionality of the CCL2 gene is directly dependent on the active position of the TGF-β cytokine. Scientists believe that breaking such a chain can be the basis for the creation of a drug for the treatment of the disease.
Researchers have carefully examined how CCL2 works inside cancer cells. Using screening, the region of the gene responsible for the activation of TGF-β1 was isolated. At the same time, gene activity in malignant cells was analyzed depending on the presence of TGF-β1.
It was found that after the activation of TGF-β, stimulation of intracellular EGR1 and RXRA, which regulate the function of CCL2, occurred. If these transcription factors were turned off, the connection between TGF-β and CCL2 was lost.
“Today, we already know the regulation scheme. Most likely, the discovered method of blocking metastasis will become the basis for further effective therapy of cancerous processes in the mammary gland. The tumor will become less aggressive, and the treatment will become more promising,” said one of the authors of the work.
What can help block RXRA and EGR1 activity? Most likely, we will talk about the point transportation of individual agents that can affect these links. In this regard, single-stranded RNAs, called antisense, are considered promising. They are complementary to intracellularly transcribed mRNA and prevent the production of transcription factors RXRA and EGR1.
In the future, the experts planned to set up an appropriate experiment in the laboratory, with the involvement of animals. It is important to understand what impact direct blocking of RXRA and EGR1 will have on the rate of spread of breast cancer metastases.
Information is presented on the Scientific Reports page