In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from Nanjing University in China have identified an enzyme that promotes lung cancer progression. These findings indicate that epigenetic modulation plays a crucial role in lung cancer, implying a new therapeutic target for treatment.
Histone modification is known to be involved in cell growth. In this study, researchers investigated the role of NatD, an enzyme that mediates the N-alpha-terminal acetylation (Nt-acetylation) of histone H4, in lung cancer. They found that NatD is commonly upregulated in primary human lung cancer tissues where its expression level correlates with enhanced invasiveness and poor clinical outcomes. Further investigation showed that NatD promotes the invasion of healthy tissue by regulating the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells through epigenetic control of a transcription factor called Slug.
“Revealing this new epigenetic pathway (NatD/Slug/EMT) is important to better understand the individual steps of metastasis formation and may help predict at an early stage whether the tumor will spread." [said professor Quan Zhao]. In the future Zhao and his colleagues want to further investigate the role of NatD more closely in the process of invasion-metastasis of lung cancer and other tumors.
[The original study can be found here]
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