Study of Protein Argonaute
Mutations in The KRAS Gene Drive Over 90% 0f Pancreatic Cancer
Protein Argonaute 2 Appears Critical For The Progression of Benign Precursor Lesions Into Pancreatic Cancer
Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center have identified a protein — Argonaute 2 — that appears to be critical for the progression of benign precursor lesions into pancreatic cancer.
Argonaute 2 interacts with K-RAS, which helps relay signals from the outside of a cell to its nucleus. Mutations in the KRAS gene drive more than 90% of pancreatic cancers, and currently there are no therapies that target these mutations.
Based on their findings, which appear in Nature Communications, the researchers believe developing drugs that target this interaction could present a much needed opportunity to treat pancreatic cancer — the five-year survival rate for which still hovers around 10%.
“Our study supports a two-phase model of pancreatic cancer development. First, the development of the benign lesions which does not require Argonaute 2, and second, the transformation of the lesions into pancreatic cancer, which does require it,” says study co-first author Sunita Shankar, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.
“We are optimistic that targeting this interaction between K-RAS and Argonaute 2 could provide a therapeutic opportunity to stall or prevent the development of pancreatic cancer.”
The senior author of the study was Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine.