Scientists Identify Protein Common To Metastasis Of Several Cancers


Molecular models of the LIMD2 protein: image via wistar.orgMolecular models of the LIMD2 protein: image via wistar.orgIn a major research project to determine what causes a tumor to spread to other cells and organs of the body, a team of researchers from the Wistar Institute and several renowned international research institutes have discovered a protein that is common in certain metastacized cancers, but not found in the original site of the cancer. They have identified the protein LIMD2 in metastatic breast, thyroid, bladder, and melanoma cells, but not in the original tumors.

"This is the result of a five year effort to characterize LIMD2, which is a new protein that we found to be expressed only in metastatic lesions, and not in the primary tumor or in normal tissues or organs,” said Rauscher, a professor in The Wistar Institute Cancer Center. “LIMD2 is a great candidate for targeting with a drug, which would inhibit the ability of these cells to leave a primary tumor and to colonize other organs.”

LIMD2 is one of several proteins involved in communication between cells.  This study found that LIMD2 interacts with integrin-linked kinase (ILK), an enzyme critical to cellular movement, proliferation, and metastasis. LIMD2 binds to ILK, enhancing its activity, and researchers suggest that the "pocket" where the two meet might be a good target for drug therapy.

Wistar has already identified and patented a monoclonal antibody that could be used as a test for LIMD2 in the future, and it has already begun research into identifying possible drugs to target the protein. 

This study is published in the March 2013 issue of Cancer Research.


sources: Wistar Institute, Cancer Research