Breast Cancer Gene Seen to Respond in Polar Ways, Either Promoting or Inhibiting Tumors

Breast Cancer Gene Seen to Respond in Polar Ways, Either Promoting or Inhibiting Tumors
Researchers in Singapore have discovered how the gene EZH2, known to promote several types of cancer, is activated in breast cancer and lymphomas. Their findings, which may lead to new and more effective therapies for EZH2-associated cancer, especially triple negative breast cancer, were summarized in two studies recently published in the journals PNAS and Blood. In one study, titled “HIFI-α activation underlies a functional switch in the paradoxical role of Ezh2/PRC2 in breast cancer,” the researchers analyzed how a single complex, composed of two units – the Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and its catalytic component EZH2 – can have both a tumor-promoting and a tumor-suppressing role. They found that the paradoxical role of EZH2/PRC2 in breast cancer is linked to oxygen conditions. When tumor cells are supplied with sufficient oxygen, EZH2/PRC2 acts as a cancer suppressor, inhibiting tumor growth. However, when attenuated by hypoxia (low oxygen), EZH2 induces expression of a gene that promotes breast cancer invasion. “Interestingly, this phenomenon seems to be more common in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), as compared to other types of breast cancer,” Prof Yu, study's co-corresponding author and senior group leader, Cancer Therapeutics & Stratified Oncology at A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), said in a news release. “We we
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