Weill Cornell Medicine investigators’ research finds that the deletion of a gene that normally promotes healthy cell division in the prostate encourages cancerous growth in the gland. Published in Cancer Cell, the findings suggest that there is a correlation between gene deletion and promotion of tumorous growth.
Known as chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 1 (CHD1), it is often deleted in prostate cancer cells similar to tumor suppress reports Dr. Christopher Barbieri, associate professor of urology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Michael Augello, a post-doc fellow in Dr. Barbieri’s laboratory was quoted in the original press release that “the interesting aspect of CHD1 deletion is that it seems to occur only in tumors that develop from the prostate.”
The Weill Cornell team found during the study that when CHD1 is present in prostate cells, it interacts with the androgen receptor (AR), a transcription factor, activating genes critical for normal prostate tissue functions. The study leads investigators to observe that the androgen receptor activates cancer promoting genes upon CHDI absence.
In this preclinical study, investigators deleted the CHDI gene in mice leading to the growth of prostate tumors. They also formulated experiments to carefully study human prostate cancer cell lines in which the gene was deleted and hence confirmed their findings about the impact of CHD1 on androgen receptors by analyzing large number of human prostate tumors. Dr. Barbieri noted “our study is one of the first critical steps in understanding the mechanisms by which the androgen receptor gets hijacked from promoting the prostate function and turns toward promoting cancer.” The team has turned their attention to researching medications that can potentially target the process of CHD1 deletion and ensuing hijacking of androgen receptors that trigger prostate malignancies.
Funding for the preclinical research came from a number of sources including the National Cancer Institute and Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Weill Cornell Medicine is the biomedical research unit and medical school of Cornell University, a private Ivy league university. Based in New York City, according to U.S. News & World Report it is one of the most selective medical schools in the United States—tied for 9th place nationwide for “Best Medical Schools: Research.” The academic medical center is affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Sloan-Kettering Institute, and Rockefeller University. It is also the academic center for the Hospital for Special Surgery and the Methodist Hospital in Houston.
Dr. Christopher Barbieri, associate professor of urology