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Researchers Identify Protein Trigger of Breast Cancer

  • Published: 2009-01-14 (Revised/Updated 2009-01-21) : University of Montreal.
  • Synopsis: New protein trigger in the progression of breast cancer discovered by Canadian researchers at Universite de Montreal and University of Alberta.

Main Document

Canadian researchers have identified a new protein in the progression of breast cancer. According to a recent study from the University of Montreal and the University of Alberta, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the protein ARF1 plays a critical role in cancer cell growth and the spread of tumors. Targeting this protein with drug therapy may provide hope to women with breast cancer.

Study from Universite de Montreal and University of Alberta suggests new drug target.

Canadian researchers have identified a new protein in the progression of breast cancer. According to a recent study from the University of Montreal and the University of Alberta, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the protein ARF1 plays a critical role in cancer cell growth and the spread of tumors. Targeting this protein with drug therapy may provide hope to women with breast cancer.

"Until now, ARF1 has been associated with harmless albeit important housekeeping duties of cells," says senior author Audrey Claing, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Montreal. "The University of Montreal and the University of Alberta team is the first to characterize the role of ARF1 in breast cancer."

Dr. Claing and her colleagues used invasive breast cancer cell lines to study ARF1's role. These cells are sensitive to a particular growth factor, called epidermal growth factor or EGF, which has previously been shown to stimulate tumor growth and invasion. Their findings suggest that EGF works through ARF1 in these cells. In addition, when ARF1 activity was chemically blocked, breast cancer cell migration and growth was reduced. Conversely, when ARF1 was overproduced in these cells, their movement was enhanced.

"Taken together our findings reveal an unsuspected role for ARF1 and indicate that this small protein may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of invasive breast cancers," says Dr. Claing, who is a member of the Groupe d'etude des proteines membranaires as well a the Groupe de Recherche Universitaire sur le Medicament, two multidisciplinary research teams dedicated to the study of membrane protein functions and the identification of new therapeutic targets for drug discovery.

About breast cancer:

According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Society, an estimated 22,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die of from the disease this year. Tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumor cells stay in one place in the body and are not usually life-threatening, whereas malignant cells invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

About the study:

The article "ARF1 controls the activation of the p13K pathway to regulate EGF dependent growth and migration of breast cancer cells," published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was authored by Pierre-Luc Boulay, Mathieu Cotton and Audrey Claing of the University of Montreal and Paul Melancon of the University of Alberta.

Partners in research:

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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