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An enzyme that enters the nucleus of some cells when they are compressed, may play a role in worsening breast cancer by promoting the spread of tumors, suggests a study published Tuesday.
The study, published in the journal Cell, conducted by teams from CNRS, Institut Curie and Inserm, focused on the way cells behave when they are compressed together, especially as they grow to large sizes. The number inside a tumor in the breast.
This research builds on an early idea, already validated by other studies: This compression of cells encourages tumors to spread and, therefore, prolongs the cancer.
But we do not know which mechanism links these two phenomena. To answer this, the study’s authors took cells from patients with certain breast tumors. They then studied them in vitro or by implanting them in mice.
Their findings are in several stages. First, the researchers found that the nucleus of the compressed cells bursts and this phenomenon damages the DNA located inside.
They find that this degradation results in accelerated aging of healthy cells, but has other effects on tumor cells, with the potential consequence of stimulating their proliferation.
The authors then proceed to look for the causes of this DNA degradation. They note that this can be inhibited by blocking the action of an enzyme called TREX1.
What is the conclusion to be drawn? These results confirm that breast cancer “possibly with DNA damage in humans” is linked to cell compression, the authors explain.
However, should we draw a cause-and-effect link from this and specifically conclude that the action of TREX1 exacerbates some breast cancers? Researchers push the hypothesis, but remain cautious.
“Our experiments prove neither that TREX1 is the main factor in DNA degradation in this context, nor that DNA degradation plays a role in disease progression in humans,” they caution.
In favor of these hypotheses, however, they show that an association has been observed between higher levels of TREX1 and a lower chance of breast cancer survival.
© 2021 AFP
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