Unravelling the unique characteristics of cancer cells and finding less-harmful ways to stop their growth have long been a focus for cancer researchers worldwide. New findings, reported in Nature Communications, describe the discovery of a unique dependence of cancer cells on a particular protein, which could lead to desperately needed treatment for hard-to-treat cancers.
The work has enhanced understanding of the role of a protein called KIF18A in driving cell division. In these new studies, the lab demonstrates that cancer cells, with the type of abnormalities seen in aggressive tumors, are more dependent on KIF18A for growth than normal cells. This vulnerability in the cancer cells could be a potential target for interrupting cancer cell growth, as the researchers demonstrated in triple negative breast cancer and colorectal cancer cells.
Following KIF18A inhibition, CIN tumor cells exhibit mitotic delays, multipolar spindles, and increased cell death. Sensitivity to KIF18A knockdown is strongly correlated with centrosome fragmentation, which requires dynamic microtubules but does not depend on bipolar spindle formation or mitotic arrest.
"This work has the potential to improve approaches for patient treatment in the future - and we are excited to keep it moving" says the senior author.
Chromosomally unstable tumor cells specifically require KIF18A for proliferation
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