Spy1 is a novel 'cyclin-like' activator of the G1/S transition capable of enhancing cell proliferation as well as inhibiting apoptosis. Spy1 protein levels are tightly regulated during normal mammary development and forced overexpression in mammary mouse models accelerates mammary tumorigenesis.
Using human tissue samples, cell culture models and in vivo analysis we study the implications of Spy1 as a mediator of mammary transformation and breast cancer proliferation.
We demonstrate that this protein can facilitate transformation in a manner dependent upon the activation of the G2/M Cdk, Cdk1, and the subsequent inhibition of the anti-apoptotic regulator FOXO1. Importantly, we show for the first time that enhanced levels of Spy1 protein are found in a large number of human breast cancers and that knockdown of Spy1 impairs breast cancer cell proliferation.
Collectively, this work supports that Spy1 is a unique activator of Cdk1 in breast cancer cells and may represent a valuable drug target and/or a prognostic marker for subsets of breast cancers.