Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, with more than 2 million new cases diagnosed every year. In patients in whom the tumor remains located in the breastsurvival rates are remarkably high, hovering around 90%.
However, the spread of cancer cells beyond breast tissue and metastasis formation in other organs drastically worsens the prognosis and poses important research challenges. Previous research work had already related the MAF protein with an increased risk of developing metastasis, but the specific cause was unknown.
Now, an IRB Barcelona team, led by Roger GomisICREA researcher, has revealed the mechanism by which the MAF protein increases the risk of metastasis in patients with breast cancer. This discovery is a crucial step in understanding the molecular basis of metastasis and has relevant clinical implications for treatment.
The team has detailed in Nature Cell Biology how the MAF protein interacts with the estrogen receptor, a key element in the development of breast cancer, modifying its structure. This interaction causes a DNA restructuring which allows the activation of genes that promote metastasis, particularly in response to estrogen. This makes patients with high levels of MAF protein have a higher risk of developing metastases.
This study opens the possibility of prevent metastasisavoiding the activation of pro-metastatic genes, by inhibiting the KDM1A molecule, which is responsible for the restructuring of DNA. These data open new perspectives in the treatment of breast cancer, since the study was carried out in cells in culture, animal models of the disease and was validated in patient samples.