Variations in structural proteins found in the nucleus of prostate cells may indicate whether a cell will become cancerous, according to a Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (PCI) investigator.
Robert Getzenberg, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Surgery, Medicine and Pharmacology at PCI, presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Las Vegas. Dr. Getzenberg's research focuses on nuclear alterations that are prevalent in prostate cancer cells and are commonly used as a pathological marker for cancer.
Researchers looked at structural proteins within the cell's nucleus. These proteins form the "scaffolding framework" of the nucleus, and are involved in DNA organization. "When we started looking at the nuclear matrix proteins in the cells of prostate tissue, we found that there is a difference between normal and cancer cells," Dr. Getzenberg said.
Variations in nuclear matrix proteins may be a useful tool for diagnosing early stages of prostate cancer, and may offer new strategies for treatment, according to the investigators.
Dr. Getzenberg and his colleagues identified proteins that were present only in the normal prostate and were missing in both prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); proteins found only in the prostate cancer cells and missing in the normal prostate and BPH; and proteins that appeared in both normal and BPH samples but were absent from prostate cancers.
"Differences in nuclear matrix proteins may be a fundamental cause of, or a major contributor to, the pattern of altered gene expression identified in prostate cancer," Dr. Getzenberg said.