Gene 'behind breast cancer's aggressive behaviour' identified

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Washington, July 21 (ANI): Scientists from Genome Institute of Singapore have identified a gene, which they believe might contribute to the breast cancer's aggressive behaviour.

Aggressive forms of cancer are often driven by the abnormal over-expression of cancer-promoting genes, also known as oncogenes.

The researchers have found a gene known as RCP (or RAB11FIP1) that is frequently amplified and over-expressed in breast cancer and functionally contributes to aggressive breast cancer behaviour.

Earlier, the GIS team led by Dr Lance Miller, and Dr Bing Lim had discovered that RCP expression was positively correlated with cancer recurrence in a population of breast cancer patients.

During the study, the researchers over-expressed RCP in non-cancerous breast cells and found that RCP promotes migration, or cellular movement, which is a precursor to the ability of tumours to invade neighbouring tissues.

However, breast cancer cells in which RCP is over-expressed take on a more aggressive behaviour, including faster proliferation, enhanced migration/invasion and anchorage-independent growth.

The study also showed that when the gene is silenced in breast cancer cells, the ability of the cells to form tumours and metastasize to other organs is greatly diminished.

They also found that RCP can activate the potent oncogene, Ras, which is aberrantly activated by mutation in about 15pct of all human cancers.

"One objective in my laboratory is to discover new oncogenes that drive breast cancer progression so that we can devise therapeutic strategies for shutting these genes down," said Miller.

"The involvement of RCP in breast cancer progression may have significant clinical ramifications, and we are now working towards a better understanding of its mechanism of action," he added.

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI). (ANI)

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