Clathrin, an essential membrane protein in the process of internalization of molecules from the extracellular space into the cell, is involved in the development and progression of liver cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hepatology. The research team is led by the lecturer Isabel Fabregat, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB and member of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Liber and Digestive Diseases Networking Biomedical Research Center (CIBEREHD).
Clathrin is a key factor in the endocytosis process, which consists on creating endocytic vesicles –covered by this type of protein- through the invagination of part of the cell membrane. In particular, the new study reveals hepatic cells with invasive traits show high levels of clathrin, a protein whose involvement in liver cancer was so far unknown.
According to the conclusions, a high expression of the clathrin protein could contribute to promote a pro-tumorigenic pathway through TGF-β, a factor involved in hepatic carcinogenesis. Therefore, the study provides new and clinically valuable knowledge to understand the complex and controverted role of TGF-β in this type of cancer. According to lecturer Isabel Fabregat, “determining the levels of clathrin expression in samples from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma can be helpful to select those that can be given a therapy based on TGF-β inhibitors”.