CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9917; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Aug. 23, 1999
UI research team discovers new genes involved in the
spread of breast cancer
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Findings from a University of Iowa
Health Care study may provide important new clues in understanding how breast
According to findings published in the August issue of
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, a team of UI investigators has identified
new genes involved in the invasive and metastatic spread of breast cancer.
"After three years of intensive molecular screening, we
are ecstatic about the prospects of developing our work for future clinical
applications," said Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D., UI professor and head of anatomy
and cell biology, and associate director of basic research and deputy director
of the UI Cancer Center.
Although researchers believe breast cancer spreads through
a complex, multi-step process involving alterations or loss of specific genes,
little is known about the function, molecular regulation and interaction of
these genetic alterations. The first step to understanding how these "misregulated"
genes lead to the spread of breast cancer is to identify them and study their
Through a molecular approach called differential display
analysis, Hendrixs research team identified the genes lysyl oxidase
and a zinc finger transcription factor in highly aggressive breast cancer
cells that spread. In addition, the researchers showed that a thiolspecific
antioxidant and heterochromatin-associated protein 1-Hs-alpha were dramatically
decreased in these same cells, thus suggesting their potential as tumor suppressor
genes that are lost in breast cancer.
"Although the precise roles of these genes remains obscure,
identifying the genes is an important first step in understanding the complex
process of tumor cell invasion and metastasis," Hendrix said. "Armed with
this information, our lab is now investigating the regulation and biological
significance of these genes, which may help us to better understand the molecular
and biochemical basis of tumor cell progression and possibly contribute to
identifying new therapeutic targets for disease intervention."
Members of Hendrixs UI research team who contributed
to this study include: Dawn A. Kirschmann Ph.D., assistant research scientist;
Elisabeth A. Seftor, Ph.D., senior research specialist; Daniel R.C. Nieva,
a first-year medical student; and Elpidio A. Mariano, a second-year medical
student. The work was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.