MD Anderson scientists have found a molecular signaling pathway that connects two known contributors to cancer cell growth and survival. They also showed that the active signaling network shortens survival of breast cancer patients.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tells the protein MCM7, through an intermediary, to fire up the very first step of DNA replication leading to cell growth, the researchers report in the June issue of Cancer Cell.
"MCM7 overexpression is a marker of cell proliferation and is associated with glioblastoma and colorectal, ovarian and esophageal cancers, among others, yet the mechanisms that regulate its function have been unclear," said co-lead author Tzu-Hsuan Huang, Ph.D., formerly of MD Anderson's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and now with Amgen, Inc., in Boston.
EGFR to Lyn to MCM7 equals cancer cell growth
In a series of experiments, Huang, co-lead author Longfei Huo, Ph.D., a research scientist in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and colleagues tracked the signaling cascade from EGFR activation to activation of another signaling molecule called Lyn to MCM7 ignition. They found all three actions are correlated in human lung and breast cancer tumors.