Reciprocally, switching off the gene leads to cancer. The scientists think there is a good chance that the gene can be switched on again with a drug. They report their findings in the reputed scientific journal PLoS Biology.
All of us begin our lives as one cell, which divides into two, four, eight … into a human of a few billion cells. Almost all cells in an adult human – skin cells, liver cells, eye lens cells, nerve cells, insulin-producing cells etc – are highly specialized to perform a specific function. They are no longer capable of taking on another task: when a skin cell divides, you get more skin cells. During the growth from an embryo to an adult human, the cells become more and more specialized ("differentiated", biologists say).
Cancer cells are an exception to that rule: they are much less specialized, and feel at home in different places in the body. Researchers have long believed that cells must take the last step in their specialization to be better protected from turning into cancer cells. However, this was not proven in a living organism.
Wouter Bossuyt from the Group of Bassem Hassan and their fellow VIB researchers at K.U.Leuven, now demonstrate with fruit flies that master control genes steering the specialization step indeed inhibit tumor formation. The specific example the VIB scientists used, are the ones biologists call the Atonal genes. These genes are very similar to each other in all species, from flies to humans.
With mice, and in collaboration with colleagues from the United States, they showed that loss of one of those genes, Atonal homolog 1 or ATOH1, causes colon cancer. The gene regulates the last step in the specialization to epithelial cell of the colon. Humans with colon cancer frequently have an inactivated ATOH1 gene, the researchers observed.
The researchers could – in a test tube – reactivate the gene in human colon cancer cells. The tumor cells stopped growing and committed suicide. Since they were able to switch the gene on with a reasonably simple chemical, this opens possibilities to one day perhaps switch the gene back on in living patients. It will be very important in the future to study in detail how exactly ATOH1 does performs its anti-cancer job
Sooike Stoops | EurekAlert!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy