Researchers ID molecules that speed cancer metastasis

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified two molecules that enable cancer to spread inside the body—a process known as metastasis. The findings could lead to therapies that thwart the onset of metastasis by inactivating these two molecules.

By live-cell imaging a fluorescent RhoC biosensor, John Condeelis, Ph.D., co-chair and professor of anatomy and structural biology and the study's senior author, and his team were able to identify that the regulatory molecules are involved in forming invadopodia, the protrusions that enable tumor cells to turn metastatic. In doing so, they identified the two molecules—p190RhoGEF and p190RhoGAP—that regulate the activity of the RhoC enzyme, which plays a crucial role during tumor metastasis, particularly in invasive breast cancer.

"In-vitro as well as in-vivo studies have shown that RhoC's activity is positively correlated with increased invasion and motility of tumor cells," said corresponding author Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the labs of Dr. Condeelis and assistant professor Louis Hodgson, Ph.D., in the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and the department of anatomy and structural biology. "The new players we've identified as regulating RhoC could serve as therapeutic drug targets in efforts to block tumor metastasis."

The other researchers in the Einstein study, all in the department of anatomy and structural biology, were M.D./Ph.D. student Matthew Oser, research technician Xiaoming Chen, Robert Eddy, Ph.D., and Dr. Hodgson. This study is the first to employ a new generation of G-protein biosensors that Dr. Hodgson developed.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research, which appears in the April 7 online issue of Current Biology.

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Posted by Lee Mather

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