Histone 'reader' protein helps block prostate cancer metastasis

MD Anderson scientists have identified a protein that could prevent metastasis in prostate cancer, as shown in mouse models and cell-line experiments.

“For metastasis, cancer cells acquire migratory and invasive abilities and so gaining new insight into how this occurs and how to stop metastasis is crucial. We believe this study opens a window into this process,” said Min Gyu Lee, an associate professor of molecular and cellular oncology, in a statement.

The study focused on histones, proteins that play a role in gene regulation. Some histone modifications have affected gene expressions that have been associated with cancer progression. The researchers examined the protein ZMYND8, which, as a histone “reader,” can recognize these histone changes, potentially influence gene expression and head off metastasis.


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“It has been well documented that the effects of histone acetylation and methylation on gene expression can be mediated by specific binding proteins called ‘readers,’” Lee said. “We identified ZMYND8 as a reader for histone marks called H3K4me1 and H3K14ac, both of which are tied to metastasis-linked genes.”

The researchers also found that ZMYND8 worked with a histone modification “eraser” called JARID1D and successfully blocked metastasis-linked genes, they said in the statement. While Lee’s team previously discovered that metastasized prostate tumors had lower JARID1D levels than normal prostate and primary prostate tumors, the new study exposed the metastasis-blocking action of ZYMND8 in tandem with JARID1D.

Other work on prostate cancer metastasis include that of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California. Researchers found that sclerostin, a protein secreted in bone, prevents prostate cancer from metastasizing in bone.

- here's the statement
- here's the study abstract

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