Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have created a software application called MinerProt, which allows the classification of proteins by their function. The system, created in collaboration with researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), is useful to prioritize the importance of some proteins. The study was published in the Molecular BioSystems journal.
The team, coordinated by IDIBELL researcher Àngels Sierra, has used this tool with networks of protein-protein interactions to create specific profiles for different protein expressions of breast cancer metastases in brain, lung, liver and bone, establishing priority tasks in each. The functional approach, based on the selection of the most representative proteins, can be used to find biomarkers to predict the evolution of the cancer process and to develop future therapeutic targets.
The main objective of the research has been to find a classifier function to interpret all the data on proteins related to breast cancer metastasis, given the large number differentially expressed and the complexity of the study. The classifier indicates the cell functions more represented in a specific cell type metastatic. "The classifier indicates what protein may be more important for the function that we have built," says Sierra, and continues: "the genes/proteins previously identified are classified according to the degree of their differential expression organized into a network of protein-protein interaction. It is a practical way to filter the information by selecting the key proteins to define relevant functions. We followed an approach based on discriminating features of metastatic breast cancer based on their organ-specificity would allow cell growth in microenvironments of distant organs such as bone, brain, liver and lungs."
There are other similar programs, but MinerProt prioritizes the most representative proteins of each functional group, which "has helped to understand the characteristic molecular mechanisms of organ-specificity of metastasis," explains Sierra.
Metastasis depends on multiple and complex interactions. Only adapted cells have the ability to survive and grow in a distant organ. "Identifying lethal interactions between protein and protein in cancer cells is a promising way for future development of therapeutic targets and drugs increasingly potent and selective," says Sierra.
The work, funded by the EU, the Health Institute Carlos III, INCA, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC), could be marketed in the future.