Protein ‘jailbreak’ helps breast cancer cells live

David Orenstein
EurekAlert

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — If the fight against breast cancer were a criminal investigation, then the proteins survivin, HDAC6, CBP, and CRM1 would be among the shadier figures. In that vein, a study to be published in the March 30 Journal of Biological Chemistry is the police report that reveals a key moment for keeping cancer cells alive: survivin’s jailbreak from the nucleus, aided and abetted by the other proteins. The research highlights that a protein’s location in a cell affects its impact on disease, and offers clear new leads for the investigation.

All four proteins were already under suspicion. Researchers, for example, have already tried to assess what levels of HDAC6 in patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer may mean for their prognosis. The results have been inconclusive. The new research suggests that measuring overall levels may not be enough, said the study’s senior author Dr. Rachel Altura, associate professor of pediatrics in The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a pediatric oncologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

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