Human DECR1 is an androgen-repressed survival factor that regulates PUFA oxidation to protect prostate tumor cells from ferroptosis.
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Depriving prostate cancer cells of a fat-metabolizing enzyme they need to survive causes the tumours to become overloaded with fat and die.
The most prevalent male cancer, prostate cancer is the second highest cause of cancer deaths in men in Western countries.
Now, a team led by researchers at the University of Adelaide in South Australia has discovered a therapeutic strategy that could lead to new treatment options for men with this cancer.
The researchers showed that DECR1, an enzyme involved the breakdown of fatty acids, is highly expressed in prostate cancer cells. Blocking this enzyme proved deadly to the cancers for two reasons: it starved the cells of a critical fuel source, and it spurred fat accumulation to toxic levels.
Drugs targeting a related enzyme in the same signalling pathway as DECR1 are already used to treat cardiovascular disease. Those same agents could now be repurposed as anti-cancer therapies, the researchers propose.
- eLife 9, e54166 (2020). doi: 10.7554/eLife.54166