A team of international researchers from University of Chicago Medical Center and Beijing has uncovered how hypoxia, or the shortage of oxygen, causes a vicious cycle that promotes kidney cancer progression. Hypoxia occurs when kidney cancer cells proliferate so quickly that they outgrow their blood supply. The scientists discovered that this causes over expression of the protein SPOP, a biomarker for kidney cancer. Though SPOP suppresses tumor growth under ordinary circumstances, hypoxia causes the protein to move from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. There, it interferes with pathways that suppress tumor growth and degrades tumor-suppressing proteins. This drives more cancer cell growth and hypoxia. The scientists hope that cytoplasmic SPOP could turn out to be a viable target for future kidney cancer drugs.
Major Mechanism Driving Kidney Cancer Progression Revealed, ScienceDaily, March 20, 2014