Controlling the expression levels of a protein called TIP60, whose activity suppresses tumor growth and metastasis, may become a potential therapeutic strategy to treat several cancer types, including cervical cancer, a new study suggests.
In the study “TIP60 Inhibits Metastasis By Ablating DNMT1−SNAIL2-Driven Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition Program,” published in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, the authors studied the effect of regulating the levels of TIP60 in breast cancer cells.
Cancer cells that have low levels of TIP60 are more likely to be invasive and can contribute to the spread of tumor cells to other organs (metastasis). Researchers found that TIP60 exerts its suppressive action by interacting with two other proteins, DNMT1 and SNAIL2.
“In this study, we found that the absence of TIP60 raises the levels of DNMT1, resulting in the activation of SNAIL-2 function,” Zhang Yanzhou, leading author of the study, said in a press release. “When this molecular program is turned on, epithelial cells — which protect or enclose organs — acquire migratory and invasive properties. This leads to the spreading of cancer cells. Understanding this mechanism holds the important key to suppressing the migration of cancer cells,” he said.
These findings may pave the way for the development of new therapy options for patients with breast cancer with poor prognosis. In addition, the findings may provide relevant information on the mechanisms underlying other types of cancer, such as colon and cervical cancers, as these patients also have irregular levels of the TIP60 protein and thus, lower defenses against cancer metastasis. Stabilizing TIP60 or increasing its levels in these cancers also may halt the growth of those tumor and reduce the likeliness of metastasis, the study indicates.
“This study provides important evidence that TIP60 levels could possibly serve as prognostic marker of breast cancer progression, and the stabilization of TIP60 could be a promising strategy to treat cancers,” said senior author Sudhakar Jha, PhD. “We are currently developing inhibitors which can increase TIP60 levels and in turn, prevent the spread of cancer.”
According to Jha, the team has plans to initiate a collaboration with clinician scientists from the National University Health System to start clinical trials to test the effectiveness of DNMT1 inhibitors in treating breast cancer and decreasing metastasis by targeting cells that have reduced levels of TIP60.