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Drugs Reverse Lung Cancer Cell Changes

February 3, 2012 | Melissa Marino

The protein transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) can act as either a tumor suppressor or a tumor promoter depending on the stage of cancer. Loss of TGF-β’s tumor suppressor activity may play an important role in lung cancer progression.

Pran Datta, Ph.D., and colleagues previously showed that this loss of responsiveness to TGF-β occurs mainly through loss of expression of the TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII). However little is known about the mechanisms underlying this loss of expression – or how it might be restored.

In a recent study published in Neoplasia, Datta and colleagues identify several proteins/pathways involved in regulating TβRII expression in lung cancer cell lines, and that histone deacetylation – an “epigenetic” change that modulates gene expression – is involved in the loss of TβRII expression in lung cancer cells. Additionally, drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) were shown to restore expression of TβRII, suggesting that these compounds – either alone or in combination with other agents – may hold potential in treating or slowing the progression of lung cancer.

The research was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Veterans Affairs.