Skip to Main Content
Text size: SmallMediumLargeExtra-Large

Beating the Spread

May 21, 2013

Human oral squamous cell carcinomaA team of NIDCR supported scientists have uncovered a molecular clue that helps to explain how cells from a common type of cancer, called squamous cell carcinoma, can break free from a primary tumor, allowing it to spread destructively to other parts of the body. The clue comes not from a mutated cancer gene, but from an enzyme that is a normal part of the cellular machinery that regulates gene transcription. The enzyme, called KDM4A, was found in laboratory studies to clear the way biochemically for known cancer-associated proteins to move forward and activate the expression of metastasis-enabling genes. In support of their laboratory discovery, the researchers found in human primary squamous cell carcinoma tissues that KDM4A and the known cancer-associated proteins, JUN and FOSL1, were indeed “significantly higher” in abundance than in normal tissues. All three also were abundant in squamous cell carcinoma metastases in the lymph node. The authors noted that the finding is especially interesting because KDM4A, a type of enzyme called a histone demethylase, likely can be targeted in future studies with a customized small molecule drug to shut it down and power off the metastasis-inducing genes. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of head and neck cancer.

The paper is titled, “Epigenetic Activation of AP1 Promotes Squamous Cell Carcinoma Metastasis” and is published in the April 30 issue of the journal Science Signaling. The authors are: Xiangming Ding, Hongya Pan, Jiong Li, Qi Zong, Xiaohong Chen, Sarah M. Dry, and Cun-Yu Wang.

Share This Page

GooglePlusExternal link – please review our disclaimer

LinkedInExternal link – please review our disclaimer


This page last updated: February 26, 2014