RICHMOND, Va. (Aug. 19, 2005) – Researchers at the VirginiaCommonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have found a new signalingcomponent that influences movement of human breast cancer cells towardepidermal growth factor.
In the August issue of the Journal ofBiological Chemistry, researchers showed that epidermal growth factor,which plays a critical role in breast cancer progression, stimulatessphingosine kinases – SphK1 and SphK2 – a family of enzymes that formsthe potent lipid mediator, sphingosine-1-phosphate, and that breastcancer cells are unable to move without these kinases.
“If weunderstood how tumor cells spread or metastasize, we would be able todesign better tools to help treat cancers,” said lead author SarahSpiegel, Ph.D., chair and professor in the VCU Department ofBiochemistry and co-leader of the Massey Cancer Center Cell Signalingprogram.
Spiegel, who is internationally recognized for herpioneering work on new lipid mediators that regulate cell growth andcell death, and her colleagues, first discovered the role ofsphingosine-1-phosphate in cell growth regulation nearly a decade ago.While researchers know that SphK1 is stimulated by multiple growthfactors, less is known about how SphK2 is regulated. Spiegel and herteam are continuing this work to better understand the functions ofthese enzymes.
“Our work suggests that sphingosine kinases are potential new targets in cancer therapy,” she said.
This research was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute.
About VCU’s Massey Cancer Center
VCU’sMassey Cancer Center, one of 61 National Cancer Institute-designatedresearch institutions, is Virginia Commonwealth University’s focalpoint for basic and clinical cancer research, education, prevention andcancer health care delivery. Since 1975, Massey Cancer Center hasserved Virginia and the nation as an internationally recognized centerof excellence in research, education and patient care. Its 170 memberdoctors and researchers are dedicated to improving the quality of humanlife be developing effective means to prevent, control and ultimatelyto cure cancer. Visit Massey online at www.vcu.edu/mcc/.
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