How breast cancer cells get into bone

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Invasive breast cancer cells growing through the wall of a breast duct. Image by Don Bliss.

It isn’t good news when cancerous cells break loose from the original tumor and spread to other organs. The lethality of the disease rises. To better understand how the process of metastasis occurs, Roger R. Gomis at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Spain and his colleagues described how metastatic breast cancer cells invaded bone in a forthcoming Paper of the Week in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Gomis and colleagues focused on a gene called NOG, which is heavily involved in bone remodeling processes and is a key player in bone metastasis. The NOG protein counters the function of  a class of growth factors called bone morphogenetic proteins.

The investigators demonstrated that NOG was expressed later in the metastatic process, once the breast cancer cells had left the primary tumor site. The protein helped the cells colonize and survive in bone tissue by promoting osteoclast differentiation, bone degradation and metastatic lesions.

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