A groundbreaking study conducted by Professor Jiyoung Park and her research team in the Department of Life Sciences at UNIST has identified FAM3C, a metabolism-regulating signaling molecule produced by cancer-associated adipocytes (CAAs), as a key regulator for the progression of breast cancer in the tumor microenvironment (TME). The results were published in the prestigious journal Cancer Research, shedding light on the potential of targeted therapies in treating breast cancer.
The study found that overexpression of FAM3C in cultured adipocytes significantly reduced cell death in both adipocytes and co-cultured breast cancer cells, while simultaneously suppressing fibrosis markers. Conversely, depletion of FAM3C in CAAs led to adipocyte-mesenchymal transition (AMT) and increased fibrosis within the TME. The research team also discovered that breast cancer cells stimulate the expression of FAM3C in adipocytes through TGF-β signaling, which can be inhibited by a TGF-β neutralizing antibody.
In a genetically modified breast cancer mouse model, early depletion of FAM3C in CAAs significantly inhibited primary and metastatic tumor growth. Furthermore, elevated levels of circulating FAM3C were observed in patients with metastatic breast cancer compared to patients with non-metastatic breast cancer.
„These results suggest that therapeutic inhibition of FAM3C expression in CAAs during early tumor development could be a promising novel approach in the treatment of breast cancer patients. Understanding the role of cancer-associated adipocytes and their secretory molecules such as FAM3C opens new avenues for the development of early diagnostic markers and targeted treatments for breast cancer.“
– Professor Jiyoung Park, Department of Life Sciences at UNIST
The findings of this study were published in the online version of Cancer Research on December 20, 2023. This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) through the Basic Science Research Program, as well as a grant from the Korea Research and Development Project for Health Technology funded by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea.
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)
Kim, S., et al. (2023). FAM3C in cancer-associated adipocytes promotes survival and metastasis of breast cancer cells. Cancer Research. doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.can-23-1641.