A recent study has found that a protein discovered by a group of researchers in their lab prevents the growth and spread of breast cancer. The research was led by Suresh Alahari, Ph.D., the Fred Brazda Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.
Dr. Alahari discovered the protein Nischarin, which is involved in a number of biological processes that include regulation of breast cancer cell migration and movement.
Even though his lab has shown that Nischarin functions as a tumour suppressor, research continues to uncover new information that may lead to better treatments.
The current study saw the team investigate Nischarin’s function in exosome release.
Exosomes are nano-sized vesicles (fluid-filled sacs) that contain proteins, genetic and other material involved both in physiological and pathological processes. The study went on to find that the tumour-derived exosomes contain various signalling messengers for intercellular communication that are involved in tumour progression and metastasis of cancer.
It turns out that the tumour exosomes influence the interactions of various types of cells within the tumour microenvironment, regulating tumour development, progression and metastasis. Primary tumours release exosomes that can enhance seeding and growth metastatic cancer cells.
The researchers found that the Nischarin regulates cell attachment and alters the properties of exosomes. Exosomes from Nischarin-positive cells reduce breast cancer cell motility and adhesion, as well as tumour volume. Nischarin-positive cells release fewer exosomes, and cell survival is decreased. Co-culturing breast cancer cells with Nischarin-positive exosomes decreases tumour growth and lung metastasis.
Speaking about the study, Dr. Alahari said, “This novel role for the tumour suppressor Nischarin not only increases our understanding of the exosome biology, but can be translated to identifying new targets for modulating cancer metastasis,” adding, “Inhibition of the secretion of exosomes may serve as an effective treatment for cancer.
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