Study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that miR-27b aids disease progression and stifles the ST14 gene, which usually prevents growth.

Researchers at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have identified an miRNA that appears to play a role in the development of invasive breast cancer and a gene that seems to inhibit the disease. They demonstrated that miR-27b not only inactivates the ST14 gene, which they found suppresses the growth of breast tumor cells, but also that it stimulates the cancer to invade other cells. Results will appear August 21 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The team was working with a line of human breast cancer cells when they realized that aggressively invasive breast tumor cells contained a large quantity of miR-27b molecules, while normal cells do not. Further research showed that miR-27b increases during cancer progression in direct proportion to the decrease in function of the ST14 gene. The investigators found that miR-27b promotes cell growth and cell invasion. They also noted that ST14 inhibits both cell growth and cell invasion.

“We are in the process of confirming these results and these studies will reveal whether ST14 can reduce breast tumor growth in animals,” notes Suresh Alahari, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “Blocking the miR-27b/ST14 interaction or rescuing ST14 function may be an effective therapeutic approach to advance breast cancer treatment.”

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