A protein component called mediator complex sub-unit plays a significant role in prostate cancer growing and spreading to other parts of the body, according to Chinese researchers, who believe disrupting its activity may be a way to fight the cancer.
The study, “Knockdown of Mediator Complex Subunit 19 Suppresses the Growth and Invasion of Prostate Cancer Cells,” was published in Plos One.
As its name suggests, mediator complex sub-unit, or Med19, is a component of a large protein molecule whose function is to regulate gene activity.
Research has shown that Med19 is implicated in a variety of diseases, including breast, lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer. But little has been known about its role in prostate cancer.
Chinese researchers investigated the difference between the way Med19 expresses itself in human prostate cancer tissue versus adjacent benign tissue. They found higher levels in malignant tissue than in the surrounding tissue.
The team used prostate cancer cells with high levels of Med19 to do additional research on its role in the disease. When Med19 was depleted from these cell lines, they found that the cells grew much slower than the original cells.
More testing showed the growth slowed because the cell cycle had been disrupted.
Med19 also promotes metastasis, or migration of cancer to other tissues or organs, the team discovered.
They also looked at genes responsible for epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a mechanism that prompts cancer cells to transition from a stationary state to a migratory one.
Results showed that related regulatory genes were affected as well, suggesting that Med19 may be responsible for promoting EMT and metastasis.
To confirm Med19’s role in prostate tumor growth, researchers implanted prostate cancer cells in the flanks of mice. Six weeks later the tumors were harvested and analyzed. The team discovered that prostate cancer cells with depleted levels of Med19 formed much smaller tumors than the original cells.
Overall, the team found “that Med19 could promote prostate cancer growth and metastasis by regulating cell proliferation, cell cycle and EMT-related genes.” They concluded that targeting Med19 activity shows potential as future prostate cancer therapy.