Washington, Jan 29 : Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, have confirmed that a molecular change found in human prostate cancers is responsible for initiating the growth of prostate cancer in mice and in human cell lines.
The study was led by Valeri Vasioukhin, Ph.D., and Peter Nelson, M.D., both investigators in the Human Biology Division at the Hutchinson Center.
A large number of human prostate cancers carry a chromosomal rearrangement causing over expression of the ETS transcription factor ERG, a protein that controls gene expression.
However, the functional significance of this phenomenon has been poorly understood, till date.
The researchers, while studying prostate cells in transgenic mice, found that up-regulation of ERG transcript initiates cancer growth. They also noticed a similar effect in human prostate cells.
It was assumed that the up-regulation of ERG in human prostate cancer triggers cell-invasion programs, leading to the displacement of basal cells by neoplastic epithelium, or cancerous tissue.
They also indicated that ERG should be considered as a target for prostate-cancer prevention or early therapeutic intervention.
The findings of this study are published in the recent online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.