Research highlight

CHIPing away at cancer metastasis

Nature Cell Biology

February 9, 2009

Scientists have uncovered that an enzyme called CHIP suppresses breast cancer. The research, online in Nature Cell Biology, suggests that a target of the enzyme known as SRC-3 represents a promising new molecular target for this cancer.

Many solid tumours form metastases, where the cancer spreads from its site of origin - this is the main reason for therapeutic failure and cancer mortality. As such, there is a renewed focus on designing drugs that target molecular pathways required for metastasis.

Junn Yanagisawa and colleagues report that CHIP, which is known to degrade a number of cancer causing proteins, also acts to degrade the gene regulator SRC-3, which then suppresses tumour progression in breast cancer. In a mouse model, CHIP expression inhibited metastasis formation, while its deletion accelerated the process. Loss of CHIP leads to increased expression of a number of cancer associated proteins, causing cells to become invasive and to grow in an uncontrolled manner, both attributes of cancer cells.

Since SRC-3 accounts for the cancer suppressive role of CHIP, it presents a new therapeutic target for breast cancer.

doi: 10.1038/ncb1839

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