Becoming Homesick

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Science  14 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5942, pp. 795
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_795b

One mechanism by which organisms battle the spread of cancer cells is the process of anoikis—cell death that occurs when a cell's adhesion molecules lose touch with their cognate substrata that line the cell's normal home within the body. A deficit in anoikis, which is mediated in part by the tumor suppressor protein p53, may contribute to cancer metastasis. Cheng et al. used RNA interference to identify SIK1 (salt-inducible kinase 1) as necessary for p53-mediated anoikis in a transformed mammary epithelial cell line. Losing SIK1 was associated with an increase in micrometastases formed by transformed cells upon injection into mice. Losing the protein kinase LKB1 is also associated with cancer; LKB1 phosphorylates and activates SIK1, and in a lung tumor cell line that lacked LKB1, a constitutively activated from of SIK1 inhibited invasion and metastasis. An enhanced understanding of cancer metastasis may lead to strategies to prevent this deadly aspect of the disease's progression.

Sci. Signal. 2, ra35 (2009).

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