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Natural defense mechanism preventing cancer at the earliest stage

Date:
May 15, 2017
Source:
Hokkaido University
Summary:
A new study shows cells in the initial stage of cancer change their metabolism before getting eliminated by the surrounding normal cells, providing a novel target for developing cancer prevention drugs.
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A new study shows cells in the initial stage of cancer change their metabolism before getting eliminated by the surrounding normal cells, providing a novel target for developing cancer prevention drugs.

Most cancers begin when one or more genes in a cell mutate. These newly "transformed" cells get extruded and eliminated after losing a competition against the surrounding normal cells in the epithelium, or the outer layer of the body. However, the mechanism by which normal cells recognize and attack the transformed cells remains elusive.

A research team led by Professor Yasuyuki Fujita of Hokkaido University's Institute for Genetic Medicine explored this natural defense mechanism using cultured mammalian cells and a mouse model. The study uncovered two metabolic changes occurring in the newly transformed cells: mitochondrial dysfunction and an elevated glucose uptake. The changes were significant only when the transformed cells were surrounded by normal epithelial cells, indicating that the changes are induced by the normal cells. Furthermore, according to the study, the metabolic changes play an important role in eliminating the transformed cells.

Interestingly, these metabolic changes are similar to the Warburg effect, which is observed in cancerous cells in the middle and latter stages of cancer. The Warburg effect is generally thought to play tumor promoting roles whereas the newly discovered metabolic changes could suppress cancer in its initial stage. "Although these two processes have similar metabolic alterations, mitochondrial downregulation and increased glycolysis, they are governed by distinct regulators and have opposing effects on the development of cancer," says Fujita.

Their findings shed new light on the inherent ability of normal cells to eliminate cancerous cells and opens up potential avenues for cancer prevention. "Considering that the metabolic changes could either suppress or promote cancer cells depending on the stage, further elucidation of the mechanism is essential to help develop cancer prevention drugs while avoiding adverse effects," Fujita commented.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Hokkaido University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shunsuke Kon, Kojiro Ishibashi, Hiroto Katoh, Sho Kitamoto, Takanobu Shirai, Shinya Tanaka, Mihoko Kajita, Susumu Ishikawa, Hajime Yamauchi, Yuta Yako, Tomoko Kamasaki, Tomohiro Matsumoto, Hirotaka Watanabe, Riku Egami, Ayana Sasaki, Atsuko Nishikawa, Ikumi Kameda, Takeshi Maruyama, Rika Narumi, Tomoko Morita, Yoshiteru Sasaki, Ryosuke Enoki, Sato Honma, Hiromi Imamura, Masanobu Oshima, Tomoyoshi Soga, Jun-ichi Miyazaki, Michael R. Duchen, Jin-Min Nam, Yasuhito Onodera, Shingo Yoshioka, Junichi Kikuta, Masaru Ishii, Masamichi Imajo, Eisuke Nishida, Yoichiro Fujioka, Yusuke Ohba, Toshiro Sato, Yasuyuki Fujita. Cell competition with normal epithelial cells promotes apical extrusion of transformed cells through metabolic changes. Nature Cell Biology, 2017; 19 (5): 530 DOI: 10.1038/ncb3509

Cite This Page:

Hokkaido University. "Natural defense mechanism preventing cancer at the earliest stage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170515091158.htm>.
Hokkaido University. (2017, May 15). Natural defense mechanism preventing cancer at the earliest stage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170515091158.htm
Hokkaido University. "Natural defense mechanism preventing cancer at the earliest stage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170515091158.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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