Canadian researchers study a new mechanism of action for cancer metastasis

During childhood, a protein called DENND2B plays a big role in spurring the migration of cells, a condition that fades as well. But now a team at the Montreal Neurological Institute says that they have discovered that the protein also appears to play a part in promoting metastasis.

Maria Ioannou, a graduate student, observed that Rab13 is highly expressed in cancer, particularly epithelial cancers that can metastasize to the brain. And DENND2B was playing the role of kickstarter in pushing Rab13 into action.

"DENND2B activates another protein in the cell called Rab13, which is an enzyme that promotes cell migration," says Peter McPherson, a principal researcher whose laboratory at The Neuro made the discovery, in a statement. "Until now, we didn't know how Rab13 was activated to initiate cell migration."

Testing the theory in mice, McPherson said that they injected breast cancer cells into mice with high levels of Rab13 and a model in which Rab13 was eliminated.

"In the case of the cells with reduced Rab13 levels, the cancer either did not grow at all or formed a smaller tumor," notes McPherson. "Furthermore, the smaller tumor did not metastasize into other tissue."

- here's the release