New Target for Ovarian Cancer Treatment: Novel Method Combats Deadly Carcinoma

First Posted: Mar 13, 2014 03:48 PM EDT

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly reproductive cancer, its mortality rate remaining steady since the 1990s. Now, Brown University researchers believe they may have found a way to more effectively treat the deadly carcinoma.

Brown biologists have undertaken what is known as a high-risk, high-reward scenario in investigating ways to further treat ovarian cancer. They believe they have found the answer in TAF proteins, which are part of the transcription initiation factor for promoters of protein coders in the body (known as TFIID).

Lead author of the study, Jennifer Ribeiro, has been focusing on TAF proteins ever since Brown University computer scientists published a paper that hinted at the link between TAFs and ovarian cancer. The findings are published in Frontiers in Oncology.

"As ovarian tumors progress, they undergo a process of dedifferentiation, allowing adaptive changes in growth and morphology that promote metastasis and chemoresistance. Herein, we outline a hypothesis that TATA-box binding protein associated factors (TAFs), which compose the RNA Polymerase II initiation factor, TFIID, contribute to regulation of dedifferentiation states in ovarian cancer," wrote Jennifer and her coauthors in the study.

The basis of their study led to significant findings on the relationship between TAFs and ovarian cancer. Ribeiro and researchers spent a lot of time examining the cBioPortal database of cancer genomics, which provides extensive information about all types of cancer. They found that several kinds of TAFs are overexpressed or underexpressed in ovarian cancer. Of those identified, TAF2, TAF4, TAF4B, and TAF9 were shown to have some relation. Amplifications, copy number gains, and expression increases of TAF2 were present in 73% of ovarian cancer tumors and the underexpression of TAF9 was seen 98% of ovarian tumors. Those two TAFs revealed the greatest percentages relative to the carcinoma.

TAF2 also supports the expression of another protein, C-SRC, which promotes cell growth and proliferation. TAF9 on the other hand, is a co-activator of p53, a protein that is known to promote cell death. These findings could be a stepping-stone for further ovarian cancer research.

To read more about graduate student Jennifer Ribeiro's study, visit this Brown University news article.

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