A study published in Scientific Reports has identified that the HEG1 protein, linked to malignant mesothelioma proliferation, could be utilized as a therapeutic target. The team, led by Shoutaro Tsuji (Kanagawa Cancer Center Research Institute, Japan) demonstrated that under the influence of a non-genetic modification, HEG1 was expressed in malignant mesothelioma (MM) tissue with no detection in normal tissues.
The team detected MM samples using SKM9-2, a specific antibody that identifies the modified form of the HEG1 protein. Researchers tested 24 non-mesothelioma samples where a low expression of the protein was detected, confirming the specificity of HEG1 for MM.
In contrast to existing diagnostic markers, this new method could also specifically identify MM subtypes. It was found that the SKM9-2 could further identify 92% of malignant pleural mesothelioma, 64% of sarcomatoid and 50% of desmoplastic malignant pleural mesothelioma samples.
Researchers hypothesized that due to structural similarities HEG1 could have a mucin-like activity, although the function of HEG1 is still unclear. In previous studies, the inhibition of HEG1 in mesothelioma cells was demonstrated to block cell replication, indicating the mucin-like activity.
Tsuji concluded: “In light of the association between HEG1 and mesothelioma proliferation, the monoclonal antibody SKM9-2 and HEG1 may be productive diagnostic tools and therapeutic targets for MM.”
Sources: Tsuji S, Washimi K, Kageyama T et al. HEG1 is a novel mucin-like membrane protein that serves as a diagnostic and therapeutic target for malignant mesothelioma. Sci Rep. 7 (2017); https://mesotheliomaresearchnews.com/2017/04/07/malignant-mesothelioma-heg1-protein-specific-biomarker-disease/