The endometrial cancer study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center provided key evidence for the importance of CD73's role in tumor growth. CD73 is the crucial enzyme for generating adenosine, a signaling molecule important for regulation of normal tissue function and stability or homeostasis. Prior to our work, it had been generally thought that CD73-generated adenosine promoted cancer via suppressing the local immune response. Our study reported the unexpected down-regulation of CD73 in carcinoma cells of advanced stage endometrial cancer.
CD73-generated adenosine in endometrial carcinoma would protect the integrity of epithelial cells that make up the tumor. Such a scenario would mean that loss of CD73 would be crucial for tumor progression. CD73 is over-expressed in a number of human tumors including breast and ovarian cancers and melanoma. There are exceptions as the enzyme is down-regulated in prostate, laryngeal and colon cancer. This is the first study showing a mechanistic basis for why CD73 loss promotes tumor progression.