ION channels have been found to play a major role in the brain during metastasis of breast cancer. The discovery, by a team of researchers from IBEC, Barcelona, Spain, could pave the way for new treatments that reduce the risk of metastasis, which is one of the most common causes of death in breast cancer.
Ion Channel Piezo2
The study found that breast cancer cells that specifically metastasise in the brain have higher levels of the ion channel Piezo2, which makes the secretion, invasion, and proliferation of serpins easier. The presence of serpins is essential for these breast cancer cells to allow the growth of the tumour in the new location.
“Our initial goal was to find out what triggers the breast cancer cells in the brain to release the serpins, because these break down the brain’s defences,” explained first author Carlos Pardo-Pastor, IBEC. “During a metastatic cell’s journey, it has to adapt to many changes in the physical and mechanical properties of its environment, so we hypothesised that ionic channels that detect mechanical and osmotic changes in cells could be relevant in metastasis.”
Calcium flow is allowed through the Piezo2 channel when the cell detects changes in the rigidity of the environment or when it crosses excessively narrow spaces. Secretion of serpines and the generation of invadosomes, which are needed to perforate the extracellular matrix and allow the cells through, are among the reactions triggered by this calcium signal.
Future Drug Development
The team believe that outlining the role of the Piezo2 protein in metastasis in breast cancer provides a target for new treatments to be developed that reduce the risk of metastasis.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.