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article imageColon cancer protein identified

By Tim Sandle     Apr 9, 2014 in Science
Nashville - A protein called PLAC8 has been implicated in the spread of colon cancer. The protein plays an active role in shifting normal cells lining the colon into a state that encourages metastasis.
While elevated PLAC8 levels were known to be associated with colon cancer, the researchers have shown that the protein plays a key role in triggering normal cells lining the colon into a state that encourages metastasis and therefore the development of a tumour.
To show this, the research teams examined zebrafish and human cells. They then applied the findings to mouse models. Here the scientists observed that colon cancer cells growing in three dimensions formed either smooth hollow balls or spiky clumps with protrusions extending into the surroundings. Compared to the smooth balls, the spiky clumps were shown to form rapidly spreading tumors in mice. When the researchers compared gene expression between the cells forming smooth balls and those forming spiky clumps, PLAC8 stood out.
The research concluded that where there is too much PLAC8 this results in slower cell movements resulting in an abnormal body shape and other developmental defects. This means that PLAC8 is an interesting target for future work in developing new cancer therapies.
The research was carried out at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The findings have been reported to the of Clinical Investigation, in a paper titled “Excess PLAC8 promotes an unconventional ERK2-dependent EMT in colon cancer”. t=_blank]Journal of Clinical Investigation, in a paper titled “Excess PLAC8 promotes an unconventional ERK2-dependent EMT in colon cancer”.
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