The team of Pierre Close and Alain Chariot (GIGA-Molecular Biology of Diseases) from the University of Liège has identified a genetic way to block breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women. It would affect 1 woman on 9.

It is known that any tumor grows from genetic mutations and from changes in the cellular environment, at the level of protein expression. The step of protein production is a crucial mechanism in tumor cells adaptation and metastasis formation.

The researchers have demonstrated that the expression of ELP3 and CTU1/2 enzymes, involved in the regulation of protein synthesis, is up-regulated in human breast cancers.

In addition, they have shown that ELP3 genetic ablation strongly impaired the tumor growth in the mammary gland and its metastatic progression. Moreover, the inhibition of these enzymes significantly reduces the invasion of breast cancer cells.

A molecular dissection allowed to highlight that the various steps leading to metastasis development cannot be implemented without ELP3 and CTU1/2. Indeed, these enzymes are crucial for translating the oncogenic DEK protein that regulates the expression of LEF1 transcription factor.

The expression levels of ELP3, DEK and LEF1 are actually correlated in human mammary tumors and are associated with an increased risk of developing metastases. Therefore, the results obtained by the team of GIGA, illustrate the crucial role of this enzymatic cascade in the regulation of protein translation, in tumoral development and in metastatic progression in breast cancer.

The inhibition of these enzymes could be a new pharmacological approach for the treatment of metastatic breast tumors.

These results have been published in the “Journal of Experimental Medicine”