August 26, 2013

Tumor factor spurs blood vessel growth

A newly identified factor regulates blood vessel growth in colorectal tumors and could be a promising target for cancer therapies.


To grow and metastasize, tumors need new blood vessels – which they help generate by turning on a process called angiogenesis. Patients with highly vascularized tumors often have poor outcomes.

Graduate student Nicole Al-Greene, R. Daniel Beauchamp, M.D., and colleagues have identified a new regulator of tumor angiogenesis in colorectal cancer. They found increased levels of “four jointed box 1” (FJX1) mRNA and protein in human colorectal tumor epithelium compared to normal and adenoma epithelial tissue. High expression of FJX1 was associated with poor patient prognosis and was correlated with changes in known angiogenesis genes. The investigators demonstrated that increased FJX1 expression in colon cancer cells promoted tumor growth and vascularization in a mouse model. In vitro, the culture media from FJX1-expressing cells promoted endothelial capillary tube formation.

The results, reported last month in PLOS ONE, support the conclusion that FJX1 regulates colorectal tumor progression through effects on angiogenesis and suggest that FJX1 may be a valuable target for new cancer therapies.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DK052334, CA069457, CA095103, GM088822).