São Paulo researchers are discovering tumor cells and showing a new way to fight cancer

On a study in tumor cells, group researchers The Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) is trying to figure out why certain proteins that should be found in the core end up in different places. Among the places, they are even outside the cell. An unexpected phenomenon may suggest an appropriate model for the diagnosis and prognosis of different types of cancers.

The results already obtained were published on the cover of the scientific journal Traffic. Researchers Juliana A. de Morais and André Zelanis from the Laboratory of Functional Proteomics (ICT-Unifesp) at the Institute of Science and Technology are re-analyzing public data from the International Archives of Researchers in Different Countries. According to Zelanis, a fraction of the cells can be sent abroad.

“Proteins are produced and assigned to different sites in the cell. And some of them are sent out of the cell to perform some function in its environment, such as forming an extracellular matrix. Proteins follow a defined pathway.

Thus, there is usually some genomic instability in tumor cells in addition to the accumulation of gene mutations. These regulate cell growth and proliferation. Thus, there are several metabolic processes that can be released. Among them is the secretion of proteins.

Stages of study

The first phase of the study ended up collecting raw data from cells on breast, melanoma, ovarian, colon, and Ewing sarcoma tumors (a rare cancer that usually affects children, adolescents, and young adults) in public repositories. Some proteins were targeted to the cell nucleus, but followed a non-canonical pathway and were secreted “incorrectly.” This pattern was observed in all tumor cell types analyzed.

In the initial group, 6,092 proteins were identified, 28% of which used non-canonical routes. Thus, they were excreted in different locations than expected. A total of 19 are present in all cell types analyzed and were detected in the cytoplasm, even if they had no nuclear-related functions.

“Then we went to see if there is any histologically any record that would show that these proteins were in a different location in the tumor situation, which was found in section 19. This is another independent finding that supports our results.”

Now, researchers are already planning the next steps to find answers. In this way, they select proteins and study their biological role in different types of cancer, starting with functional studies. Initially, Morais and Zelanis should study more about melanoma.

“So far, our study has analyzed proteins from cultured secretory cell databases. Only one of the samples came from a patient’s cell. Now we want to study plasma samples from melanoma patients to find these proteins to look for markers. Validation of everything compare and see if it is a process that occurs only in tumor cells. “

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