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Targeted Therapy May Help Treat Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer with no hormone receptors for progesterone and estrogen in its cells. The cells do not overexpress the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 genes.  That explains why it has some of the highest recurrence rates and low survival rates. The standard treatment for triple-negative breast cancer includes radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

In a recent investigation;

Researchers sought to determine the effects of the transcriptional co-regulator CBFβ, which facilitates the function of the three RUNX transcriptional factors. Triple-negative breast cancer with RUNX transcriptional factors have poor prognoses. The cells become more metastatic when CBFβ and RUNX are both expressed.

Since mutations in CBFβ are the most prevalent in patients, they sought to establish the role it plays in breast cancer metastasis. CBFβ often forms a functional complex with all the RUNX transcriptional factors.

The scientists used MD-MB-231 cells in the experiments. By adding and removing CBFβ to the cells, they investigated its ability to influence or power the metastatic process. The results would help to understand the role of CBFβ in the transition of TNBC cells between the mesenchymal and epithelial phenotypes, the influencers of the progression of the disease.

It was discovered that;

  • The loss of CBFβ in MDA-MB-231 cells caused cell differentiation of a phenotype that is more epithelial-like. Epithelial cells help in the filtration, excretion, absorption, and sensation functions in the body. They also protect the body from the external environment.
  • Introducing CBFβ triggered the expression of mesenchymal markers in the MDA-MB-231 cells and lowered the epithelial markets. The previous studies had found that this was due to increased metastatic potential.
  • RUNX1, RUNX2, and CBFβ assist in maintaining the mesenchymal phenotype in MDA-MB-231 cells.
  • When CBFβ is removed, the MDA-MB-231 cells lose their ability to metastasize to the bone. If CBFβ is reintroduced, the transition of the mesenchymal cell to epithelial cell can be undone.

The researchers concluded that triple-negative cancer could be treated by targeting the RUNX/CBFβ complex.

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