Mary Zutter and colleagues, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, have generated data that lead them to suggest that decreased expression of the protein alpha-2 integrin is predictive of tumor dissemination to distant sites and decreased survival in individuals with either breast or prostate cancer.
The researchers first studied the role of the protein alpha-2-beta-1 integrin (which is composed of the alpha-2 integrin protein and the beta-1 integrin protein) in cancer initiation and progression using a clinically relevant, spontaneous mouse model of breast cancer progression and metastasis (spread). Their data indicated that alpha-2-beta-1 integrin suppressed metastasis.
To investigate whether the data had any immediate clinical applicability, a systematic analysis of microarray databases of human breast and prostate cancer was performed. The results of this analysis showed that decreased expression of the gene responsible for generating alpha-2 integrin was predictive of metastasis and decreased survival, leading to the suggestion that alpha-2 integrin expression could be a useful biomarker of metastatic potential and patient survival.
The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
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