According to a media release issued today by the American Association for Cancer Reasearch, a paper just published in Cancer Discovery has suggested that a gene known as PFKFB4 may be implicated in the more aggressive growth of metastatic prostate cancer cells.
The media release refers to a paper by Ros et al., who have studied the effects of so-called siRNA-mediated “gene silencing” of 222 metabolic enzymes, transporters, and regulators on the survival of three different metastatic prostate cancer cell lines and a non-malignant prostate epithelial cell line.
This type of study is scientifically complex, but the authors were able to show that depletion of an enzyme known as 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 4 (PFKFB4) inhibited the growth of prostate cancer tumors in a xenograft model of prostate cancer. They were also able to show that expression of messenger RNA derived from activation of the PFKFB4 gene was greater in metastatic prostate cancer compared with primary tumors.
The potential implication is that either expression of the PFKFB4 gene or of the PFKFB4 enzyme itself are potential targets for agents that could block effects of this enzyme.
The PFKFB4 enzyme appears to be critical to several aspects of prostate cancer cell metabolism, including balancing glycolytic activity and antioxidant production to maintain cellular balance of reduction and oxidation (“redox”) processes in the cancer cells. When levels of PKFKB4 gene were depleted in the laboratory models, tumor growth was inhibited. Higher levels of the gene were found in the metastatic prostate cancer cell lines.
It is too early to know whether this finding can be converted into a new type of therapy for men with progressive prostate cancer, but it does appear to offer us another new clinical strategy by which to block and or delay prostate cancer progression.