A study conducted by Professor Pranita Sarangi from Department of Biotechnology (DBT), IIT Roorkee has found that Fbln7-C, a C-terminal fragment of the adhesion protein Fibulin7, the latest member of the fibulin family of secreted glycoproteins, can delay the reprogramming process of macrophages present in the tumor tissues, also known as tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) while directly inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells. Reprogramming of immune cells in the cancer microenvironment is a critical step in the development of cancers. To hide from the recognition by the immune cells, cancer cells device multiple ways to suppress the immune cell functions. One of the cell types that is carefully reprogrammed by the cancer cells is the tumor-associated macrophages or TAMs. As the cancer progress, the macrophages that are initially recruited into the cancer site to assist in the removal of the cancer cells get reprogrammed to produce certain protein substances that help the cancers to grow and spread to different parts of the body. This study used various in vitro systems and an animal breast tumor model to highlight that Fbln7-C could help the macrophages to resist the reprogramming process and delay the conversion of anti-tumorigenic to pro-tumorigenic TAMs, while directly inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.
The study is published in The FEBS Journal, an official publication of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies. This work was also highlighted in a commentary published in the same journal by researchers from IIT Bombay. Prof. Pranita Sarangi had received funds from the DBT-Govt of India (Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award-2017) for this work.