Same gene 'has different effects on breast and prostate cancers'

17 October 2011

The same gene could have opposite effects in the cause of breast and prostate cancer, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic have discovered that a gene - known as an androgen receptor (AR) - which promotes prostate cancer when it is "turned on", has the same effects on breast cancer when "turned off".

In prostate cancer, the AR gene promotes cancer growth when the gene is "turned on" but in breast cancer, the gene promotes cancer growth when the gene is "turned off", as is often the case after menopause, when the gene production ceases in women.

Published in Oncogene, the research discovered that AR inhibits tumour suppressor protein PTEN expression in prostate cancer cells, but stimulates it in breast cancer cells.

Charis Eng, chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, said: "Our observations help explain why this prostate cancer risk can be halved by drinking red wine, which increases PTEN expression. Our data also suggest that treatment of the exact same cancer must be personalised for males and for females."

According to an earlier study by Dr Eng, PTEN tumour suppressor gene mutations are the most frequent genetic lesions in endometrial adenocarcinomas of the endometrioid subtype.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Eng, Charis, et al., "Differential regulation of PTEN expression by androgen receptor in prostate and breast cancers", Oncogene, May 2011.

Eng, Charis, et al., "Altered PTEN expression as a diagnostic marker for the earliest endometrial precancers", Journal Of The National Cancer Institute, June 2000.

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