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Writing in the February 27 online issue of Science Signaling, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center describe how a signaling protein that normally suppresses tumors can be manipulated (or re-programmed) by growth factors, turning it into a driver of malignant growth and metastasis.

In the lives of cells, complex communications carrying proteins and other molecules along signaling pathways dictate cellular function and well-being. But in cancer cells, communications are often massively dysregulated. “Although the multiple signaling pathways in cells are typically conceptualized as independent entities, it is their complex crosstalk that shapes many aspects of cancer,” said senior author Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Building upon earlier work published in 2015, Ghosh and colleagues investigated a protein called Disheveled-associating protein or Daple, which is produced by nearly all healthy cells in the body and is well-recognized for its role in helping cells in different tissues coordinate processes, such as development and maintenance of organs.

In their earlier work, the research team reported for the first time that Daple appeared to exert some control over the initiation and progression

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