Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

2012 News Archive

Hopkins team identifies new pathway in Hepatobiliary cancers

An overarching our goal of our research is to identify proteins and pathways which overexpressed (over-represented in biliary cancers), since these may potentially be targeted by therapies that are specifically toxic to and kill tumor cells but not normal cells. In a recent publication in Human Pathology, Dr. Bai and Anders led a study which identified the expression of Yes-associated protein in biliary cancers. The Yes-associated protein (YAP) is a transcription co-activator of the Hippo signaling pathway. YAP deficiency in mice alters bile duct development, suggesting that YAP plays an important role in biliary tract homeostasis. This study finds elevated nuclear expression of YAP in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma relative to normal bile ducts. The authors also demonstrate that nuclear YAP expression correlates with nuclear survivin expression in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and in a mouse model find that survivin expression is dependent upon Yes protein expression. These findings identify a novel pathway which can potentially be targeted in biliary cancers, leading to non-toxic affective therapies.

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Note: This study was supported in part by donations to the biliary cancer research fund at Johns Hopkins.

~ March 2012