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Published: 2019-05-10 13:31 | Updated: 2019-05-10 13:44

Inhibition of ribosome biogenesis as a novel approach for multi-stage cancer treatment

Nearly ninety per cent of all cancer patient deaths are due to metastasis. A study from Karolinska Institutet shows that a process that allows the cells to metastasise is aided by the synthesis of new ribosomes, the cell components in which proteins are produced. The results open the possibility for new treatment strategies for advanced cancers. The study is published in Nature Communications.

First in vivo evidence of increased rRNA biogenesis in migratory epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
First in vivo evidence of increased rRNA biogenesis in migratory EMT/Snail2+ cells (yellow, white arrows)

As tumours progress towards advanced stages they dedifferentiate, become more aggressive and lose the characteristics of the origin tissue. They also acquire the migratory capacity that allows the tumour to spread or metastasize to distant sites in the body, eventually causing patient death. 

For epithelial tumours to metastasis the tumour cells undergo a process known as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which allows the cells to develop migratory ability. During EMT, cells also lose their proliferative capacity and become more stem-like. This remarkable transition leads to both increased invasiveness and an ability to evade numerous cancer treatments including hormonal therapies.

In the present study the researchers found that EMT is aided by the synthesis of new ribosomes, which serve to synthesize the proteins required for cell functions. Their study therefore argues that ribosome biogenesis may be more than just a pro-proliferative process.

As tumours progress towards advanced stages they dedifferentiate, become more aggressive and lose the characteristics of the origin tissue. They also acquire the migratory capacity that allows the tumour to spread or metastasize to distant sites in the body, eventually causing patient death. 

For epithelial tumours to metastasis the tumour cells undergo a process known as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which allows the cells to develop migratory ability. During EMT, cells also lose their proliferative capacity and become more stem-like. This remarkable transition leads to both increased invasiveness and an ability to evade numerous cancer treatments including hormonal therapies.

In the present study the researchers found that EMT is aided by the synthesis of new ribosomes, which serve to synthesize the proteins required for cell functions. Their study therefore argues that ribosome biogenesis may be more than just a pro-proliferative process.

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Charlotte Brandt