Tumor-Suppressing Protein May Stop Spread of Breast Cancer

TIP60 levels could serve as a prognostic marker of breast cancer progression.

Controlling the levels of tumor-suppressing proteins may prevent breast cancer cells from spreading, according to a study published in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

The results of the study showed that the protein TIP60 interacts with 2 other proteins, called DNMT1 and SNAIL2, to stop the spread of cancer cells. The study was the first to examine the novel function of TIP60 in regulating DMNT1-SNAIL2 axis, which subsequently inhibits metastasis.

“In the study, we found that the absence of TIP60 raises the levels of DNMT1, resulting in the activation of SNAIL-2 function,” said first study author Zhang Yanzhou. “When this molecular program is turned on, epithelial cells — which protect or enclose organs – acquire migratory and invasive properties. This leads to the spreading of cancer cells. Understanding this mechanism holds the important key to suppressing the migration of cancers cells.”

The authors noted that the findings were of particular importance for breast cancer patients with poor overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) prognoses, because prior research showed that TIP60 levels are low in these patients, reducing their defense against cancer cell metastasis.

Additionally, the findings may lead to new treatments for other types of cancers that show irregular levels of TIP60, such as colon cancer and cervical cancer.

“This study provides important evidence that TIP60 levels could possibly serve as [a] prognostic marker of breast cancer progression, and the stabilization of TIP60 could be a promising strategy to treat cancers,” said lead researcher Sudhakar Jha. “We are currently developing inhibitors which can increase TIP60 levels and in turn, prevent the spread of cancer. Moving forward, we are also looking into collaborating with clinician scientists from the National University Health System to initiate clinical trials using DNMT1 inhibitors to treat breast cancer patients and decrease metastasis by targeting cells that have lower levels of TIP60 as these cells are more likely to be invasive.”