Protein Interaction Facilitates Cancer Metastasis

Interaction between focal adhesion kinase and myosin increases cancer cell proliferation and metastasis.

Researchers have recently discovered that interaction between certain proteins allow cancer cells to proliferate and metastasize. Findings from a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could lead to a better understanding of how tumors grow in various cancers.

"In our paper, we identify a direct interaction between focal adhesion kinase and myosin that drives the production of secreted cancer-promoting proteins," said researcher Alexander Meves, MD.

The study authors found that cancer cells use secreted proteins to develop insoluble scaffolds that prevent anti-cancer attacks, while also increasing cancer cell proliferation and metastasis.

"Cancer cells are very responsive to their environment and try to adapt and fit in," said Dr. Meves. "Focal adhesion kinase provides these cells with input about their environment, specifically the rigidity or elasticity of the environment."

Focal adhesion kinase is a protein involved with cellular adhesion, and affects how cells are able to move around, which is important for cancer cells. Although the protein is important for certain functions, its underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

Myosin, a motor protein, acts as a transporter that brings focal adhesion kinase from the cell membrane to the nucleus, according to the study.

The authors discovered that once focal adhesion kinase and myosin interact, focal adhesion kinase enters the nucleus. Once in the nucleus, the protein allows the cancer cell to adapt to its environment through gene transcription, according to the study.

Aggressive and metastatic cancers are known to be hard-to-treat and have low survival rates. By targeting the interaction between focal adhesion kinase and myosin, cancer cells may be unable to undergo this process, which could lead to a reduced rate of cell growth and metastasis.

"Our hope is that, based on the structural data presented in our paper, it may be possible to develop drugs that inhibit cancer progression by blocking the interaction of focal adhesion kinase with other proteins," Dr Meves concluded.