A molecule that keeps prostate cancer at bay in mice is reported online in Oncogene. The molecule has a controversial association with human cancer and it's not yet clear what the implications are for human disease.
Clusterin is involved in regulating cell survival and has been reported to be both increased and decreased in different types of human cancer. Arturo Sala, Saverio Bettuzzi and colleagues investigated the role of Clusterin specifically in prostate cancer progression. When they completely removed the Clusterin gene from mice, all animals developed prostate cancer whilst their siblings that still had Clusterin remained tumour free. And in a mouse model of prostate cancer, where the animals have been genetically modified to express a gene that switches on prostate cancer, removing Clusterin makes the disease much more aggressive at an earlier stage. The team present evidence that it functions by switching off NFkB - a protein that is important for the proliferation and survival of prostate cells.
Together the findings suggest that Clusterin is essential for keeping prostate cancer in check in this system.
In support of this idea, human prostate cancer progression seems to be associated with a reduced level of Clusterin. But the authors caution that extending the findings from their animal studies to humans is complicated and further work needs to be done.
Arturo Sala (Institute of Child Health, London, UK)
Saverio Bettuzzi (University of Parma, Italy)
Abstract available online.
(C) Oncogene press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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