Micro-RNA group that controls development of a type of breast cancer

Researchers David Llobet-Navàs (IDIBELL, CIBERONC) and Ruth Rodríguez-Barrueco (

Researchers David Llobet-Navàs (IDIBELL, CIBERONC) and Ruth Rodríguez-Barrueco (IDIBELL-UB). Image: IDIBELL

Micro-RNAs are small molecules that regulate the expression of certain genes. A study led by researchers from IDIBELL and the UB, together with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, USA), has described a set of micro-RNAs that would be regulating breast cancers dependent on the Wnt/--catenin signaling pathway. This pathway is involved in several processes of tumor development and promotes, among other phenomena, the proliferation of the mammary epithelium. The micro-RNAs they discovered would act as a brake on this pathway to prevent this overproliferation.

The female mammary glands are constantly-changing organs. The expansion and regression of the epithelium of these glands is dictated by ovarian hormonal changes. These cycles are highly regulated in space and time, since small maladjustments can have very serious pathological consequences. In this regard, the Wnt/--catenin signaling pathway plays a very important role. This new study, which has been published in EMBO Reports, has been conducted in a mouse model that does not express the examined micro-RNA group, miR-424/503. Specifically, the researchers have observed that females that do not express these micro-RNAs more frequently develop mammary gland tumors characterized by an overactivation of the Wnt/--catenin pathway.

The study has been carried out by a research team led by researchers Ruth Rodríguez-Barrueco (IDIBELL-UB) and David Llobet-Navàs (IDIBELL- CIBERONC), together with the teams of Jose Silva, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York), and Jiyang Yu, from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis).

"Understanding why tumors are generated, the underlying molecular mechanisms and the role played by each one gives us a broader perspective. A perspective that allows us to continue exploring new therapeutic targets to modulate in order to obtain more effective treatments with fewer side effects for those affected", says Ruth Rodríguez-Barrueco.

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