Research from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey shows that the RUNX2 protein, which regulates the transcription of genetic messages responsible for the different functions of cells, may play a role in melanoma cell growth and spread and could serve as a therapeutic target for the disease.
Abnormal and uncontrolled production of this class of proteins, known as transcription factors, allow for cells to bypass growth control mechanisms and to develop characteristics necessary for invading surrounding tissues. Some transcription factors already have been identified as playing a role in melanoma development. These discoveries come into a favorable context of new drugs against transcription factors being tested in clinical trials. In the study, published in the current online edition of Cancer Letters, senior author Karine Cohen-Solal, PhD, and colleagues show for the first time that the RUNX2 transcription factor could also serve as a possible treatment target for melanoma.
This latest research shows deviant messaging translated through RUNX2 may result in melanoma growth, migration and invasion. In order to further understand the impact of such abnormal messaging, investigators artificially reduced the amount of RUNX2 in melanoma cells through a genetic approach. As a result, reduced abilities for cell growth, migration and invasion were found.
"Successful efforts to render transcription factors 'drugable' by interfering with different aspects of their transcriptional activity make this class of proteins attractive targets for therapy," says Dr. Cohen-Solal, a researcher at the Cancer Institute and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "Exploring the role of RUNX2 in the development of melanoma is likely to reveal new mechanisms driving melanoma progression and identify a target for novel anti-melanoma agents, thereby opening new avenues for the treatment of this disease."