Prostate (PCa) and breast cancer (BCa) are leading causes of cancer deaths. These tumours depend on sex hormones that function through receptor proteins for their growth. For this reason, hormone therapies inhibiting these receptors are the first approach for controlling metastatic disease. However, hormone therapies eventually fail. Therefore, understanding how receptor proteins promote cancer growth will affect our approach for designing effective treatments for PCa and BCa.
Recently, we showed that sex hormone receptors activate Gli proteins in PCa and BCa cells. Gli proteins are regulators of genes that control cell growth and overactive Gli proteins cause brain and skin cancers. I propose that hormone-activated Gli is responsible for the growth effects of sex hormones in PCa and BCa. My work will characterize the relationship of sex hormones, Gli proteins and cancer cell growth. In addition, I will employ a novel technique to understand binding of Gli proteins with sex-hormone receptors and develop a new strategy to block cancer cell growth. This project will lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of sex hormone receptor action in PCa and BCa and evaluate a new approach to control the growth of these deadly diseases.