Greehey Institute team finds link between BRCA1 and Ewing sarcoma

March 07, 2018

Scientists with the Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute at UT Health San Antonio have discovered a surprising connection between a breast cancer protein, BRCA1, and a pediatric cancer called Ewing sarcoma.

Their findings, reported March 7 in the journal Nature, reveal a completely new mechanism by which BRCA1 can be rendered dysfunctional. "The observations raise many new questions about both Ewing sarcoma and BRCA1 biology," said the study's senior author, Alexander J.R. Bishop, D.Phil., of UT Health San Antonio.

Ewing sarcoma is a pediatric bone and soft tissue cancer. The median age of Ewing sarcoma patients is 15 years, and more than half of patients are adolescents. "Our team worked to identify why Ewing sarcoma is usually sensitive to standard cancer drugs, with the hope of finding new targets for therapy and revealing new ways to treat the disease if it returns or does not respond to standard therapies," Dr. Bishop said.

Fused genes

Almost all Ewing sarcomas are caused by a rearrangement of two genes that are fused together. The resulting combination of the Ewing sarcoma protein, EWSR1, and another protein, usually FLI1, is called a "fusion oncogene." This bad actor promotes cancer.

The researchers reported in Nature that:

"EWSR1 is like a train conductor who sees damage on the tracks ahead and stops the train," Dr. Bishop said. "BRCA1 is the repair crew who are passengers on the train and go fix the damage when the train stops. But now you've got this mutant bully, this fusion oncogene, who prevents the conductor from being able to stop the train and prevents the repair crew from getting off to work on the tracks."
-end-
Acknowledgments

Dr. Bishop joined UT Health San Antonio in 2005. He is an associate professor in the Department of Cell Systems & Anatomy within the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. Concurrently he is a member of both the Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute and the Mays Cancer Center, the newly named center at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This research is made possible by grants from the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with missions of teaching, research and healing, is one of the country's leading health sciences universities and is now called UT Health San Antonio™. UT Health's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 33,000 alumni who are advancing their fields throughout the world. With seven campuses in San Antonio and Laredo, UT Health San Antonio has a FY 2018 revenue operating budget of $838.4 million and is the primary driver of its community's $37 billion biomedical and health care industry. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit http://www.uthscsa.edu.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.