Newswise — May 9, 2012 — (Bronx, NY) — Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered a molecule that inhibits the action of estrogen. This female hormone plays a key role in the growth, maintenance and repair of reproductive tissues and fuels the development of endometrial and breast cancers. The molecule, discovered in animal studies, could lead to new therapies for preventing and treating estrogen-related diseases in humans. The findings were published online April 26 in the PNAS Plus.
The hormones estradiol (the most important form of estrogen) and progesterone prepare the uterus for pregnancy. They trigger a series of cell proliferation and cell differentiation events that prepare the uterine lining (endometrium) for implantation of a fertilized egg. Although this process is tightly controlled, uterine cells sometimes proliferate abnormally, leading to menstrual irregularities, endometrial polyps, endometriosis, or endometrial cancer ─ the most common female genital tract malignancy, causing six percent of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. and a higher proportion worldwide.
“The molecular mechanisms that underlie these pathologies are still obscure ─ and so are the mechanisms involved in normal hormonal regulation of cell proliferation in the endometrium, which is essential for successful pregnancy,” said lead author Jeffrey Pollard, Ph.D., professor of developmental and molecular biology and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein. He also holds the Louis Goldstein Swan Chair in Women’s Cancer Research and is the deputy director of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center.
In studies involving rodents, Dr. Pollard discovered that a molecule called KLF15 (Kruppel-like transcription factor-15) controls the actions of estradiol and progesterone in the endometrium by inhibiting the production MCM2, a protein involved in DNA synthesis.
“Our findings raise the possibility that it may be feasible to prevent or treat endometrial and breast cancer and other diseases related to estrogen by promoting the action of KLF15,” said Dr. Pollard.
The paper, titled “KLF15 negatively regulates estrogen-induced epithelial cell proliferation by inhibition of DNA replication licensing,” is coauthored by Sanhita Ray, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Einstein.
The study was supported by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. The authors report no conflicts of interest.
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Einstein is home to 724 M.D. students, 248 Ph.D. students, 117 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 368 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,522 full time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2011, Einstein received nearly $170 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center –Einstein’s founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest post-graduate medical training programs in the United States, offering approximately 155 residency programs to more than 2,200 physicians in training. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.