Melanoma is one of the most aggressive tumors and, from the first moments, can lead to metastasis, which also occurs in an apparently chaotic manner with the involvement of many processes. Now, a group of Spanish researchers has managed to find an order to this chaos.
Specifically, scientists from the Melanoma Group of the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), led by Marisol Soengas, and in collaboration with the Hospital 12 de Octubre, have shown that metastatic processes do not occur through "independent mercenaries, but rather that they are coordinated by a general captain: the protein p62 ".
That is to say, that numerous processes involved in the metastasis of melanoma, which until now were believed to be independent of each other, have a global coordinator that is the aforementioned p62 protein.
According to this work, one of the proteins controlled by p62 is FERMT2, explains the CNIO a press release, in which it recalls that this had not been related before with metastasis in melanoma.
The work shows that both FERMT2 and p62 could become a prognostic marker of the evolution of the disease in patients.
"These important findings" have been chosen by the journal Cancer Cell to star on its cover of the January 2019 issue, according to the CNIO, which today reported on this work.
In order to reach their conclusions, the scientists carried out a complete study with the most advanced bioinformatic technologies and achieve a detailed characterization of p62 and all the processes in which it is involved in melanoma.
They analyzed the expression of the genes involved in these processes -transcriptomic-, the structure and function of proteins -proteomics- and the interactions that occur between them -interactomic-.
From this analysis, they concluded this "new and unexpected" function of p62: controlling the half-life of other proteins involved in melanoma metastasis.
In addition, the scientists endeavored to find out what other factors regulated by p62 could also affect patient survival.
Thus, they identified a new protein, FERMT2, that correlates with a worse prognosis of metastatic melanomas.
"For us, the pathologists, it was interesting to find that both p62 and FERMT2 are increased in samples of patients with melanoma metastasis, because until now we do not have good markers of tumor progression", summarizes José Luis Rodríguez-Peralto, Head of Service of Pathological Anatomy of Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid and co-author of this work.
In next steps, the scientists will try, among others, to validate the results in a greater number of biopsies.