Research shows FER can activate MET
A study published in the journal Genes & Development could lead to a deeper understanding of metastasis in ovarian cancer. The study was carried out by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women. In 2012, it affected about 239,000 women in the world. In the early stage of ovarian cancer, there are usually subtle or no symptoms and signs. Most women are diagnosed at Stage 3 or later, in which the cancer has metastasized to other tissues. The five-year survival rate of these women is much lower than that of women diagnosed at Stages 1 and 2.
The new study's findings suggested that it's critical to solving metastasis in ovarian cancer. This is no easy task because ovarian cells can move around within the peritoneal cavity regardless of the absence or presence of cancer. It is thus difficult to eliminate cancer cells via surgery, according to Gaofeng Fan, one of the main researchers.
In this study, the research team found a new mechanism of how ovarian cells turn into cancer cells, providing novel therapeutic targets for cancer metastasis. The new mechanism involves the FER protein, which can float in the cytoplasm. The researchers discovered that FER is overexpressed in ovarian cancer cells and it increases the motility and aggressiveness of these cells.
One of the major findings was that FER can activate a receptor in the membrane of ovarian cells. The receptor, known as MET, is generally activated by HGF. An increase in MET is found in most ovarian tumor cases. Moreover, MET activation plays a role in cancer initiation and is associated with bad outcomes of patients. Given its key role in cancer, MET is used as a target of ovarian cancer therapy. However, MET inhibitors still have limited effects now. In further experiments, the team identified how FER activates MET from below.