Researchers at Upstate Medical University and Harvard University recently revealed that the loss of the WAVE1 gene is related to a lethal form of prostate cancer. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense and published in the Oncotarget journal.
Prostate cancer is the most frequent type of cancer affecting men and is responsible for 27,000 deaths each year and a total of 220,000 new cases diagnosed annually.
Several databases available to the public were compared using bioinformatic meta-analysis tools. Scientists found that modifications in the WAVE1 gene were related to smaller periods of remission in patients treated for prostate cancer. Importantly, the assessment revealed that 22.9 percent of prostate cancer cases analyzed had the WAVE1 gene deletion.
Leszek Kotula, the study’s co-author and professor at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., said in a press release: “We observed that prostate cancer tumors contain a frequent deletion of the WAVE 1 gene. What’s important, though, is that this WAVE1 gene deletion occurs in metastatic and lethal cancer, thus suggesting that, the WAVE1 gene loss may represent an aggressive subtype of prostate cancer which is more challenging to treat and more likely to progress. It is possible that patients who have tumors characterized by the deletion of the WAVE1 gene may benefit from earlier intervention, such as surgery or radiation therapy.”
WAVE gene complexes play a part in cell migration and motility, cell-to-cell communication and cellular adhesion, influencing several processes involved in metastasis and tumor progression.
“It is clear that disruption of the WAVE complex is associated with human cancers, including prostate cancer. However, what we have determined is that because lethal prostate cancers show this disruption, we may be able to identify mechanisms that lead to the tumor cell acquiring resistance to advanced therapies. Nonetheless, understanding the biological consequences of this deletion will require further investigation,” said study coauthor Adam Sowalsky, Ph.D., instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
This study was built on previous research on the ABI1 gene that functions as a tumor suppressor in prostate cancer and led researchers to hypothesize a connection with the WAVE1 gene.