Brazilian researchers highlight a new role of the prion protein PrPC

Brazilian researchers have shown that the cellular prion protein (PrPC) was able to modulate the aggressiveness of tumor cells. Recall that the protein PrPC is expressed on the surface of nerve cells and plays an important role in the maturation of neurons and the formation of their neural arms. It also prevents PrPC neurons to enter apoptosis, ie in the process of programmed cell death. Finally, protein PrPC modulate the immune system response in case of inflammation, and protects neuronal cells from ischemia.

A study by Brazilian researchers hypothesizes that the expression of PrPC may modulate the aggressiveness of tumor cells. The study, coordinated by Professor Vilma Regina Martins, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in São Paulo, was published in the online edition of the scientific journal International Journal of Cancer.

According to Vilma Regina Martins, PrPC appears increasingly in the scientific literature, not only for its role in neurodegenerative diseases caused by prions, but also for its biological role. She added that the study data show that PrPC modulates the expression and activation of other proteins such as integrins, and that its lack of certain tumor cells may confer a more aggressive phenotype. The results indicate that PrPC can be consistently involved in metastasis formation.

The research team studied the role of PrPC in the modulation of a tumor in cell culture and animal models. Mesenchymal cells of mice, free of PrPC were processed to develop tumors, and then become aggressive, but does not generate metastases. The researchers then tested the role of the protein PrPC on these transformed cells. The study indicates that PrPC command the activation of other proteins that make the tumor more aggressive.

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