Bacterial DNA may integrate into the human genome more readily in tumors than in normal human tissue, according to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Institute for Genome Sciences. Researchers analyzed genomic sequencing data available from the Human Genome Project, the 1,000 Genomes Project and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). They considered the phenomenon of lateral gene transfer (LGT), the transmission of genetic material between organisms in the absence of sex.
Scientists have already shown that bacteria can transfer DNA to the genome of an animal. The researchers at the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences found evidence that lateral gene transfer is possible from bacteria to the cells of the human body, known as human somatic cells. They found the bacterial DNA was more likely to integrate in the genome in tumor samples than in normal, healthy somatic cells. The phenomenon might play a role in cancer and other diseases associated with DNA damage. The paper was published in PLOS Computational Biology on June 20.
"LGT from bacteria to animals was only described recently, and it is exciting to find that such transfers can be found in the genome of human somatic cells and particularly in cancer genomes," says Julie C. Dunning Hotopp, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and lead author on the paper. Dr. Hotopp also is a research scientist with the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. "Studies applying this approach to additional cancer genome projects could be fruitful, leading us to a better understanding of the mechanisms of cancer."
In the research, a team of interdisciplinary scientists and bioinformatics researchers found that while only 63.5% of TCGA samples analyzed were from tumors, the tumor samples contained 99.9% of reads supporting bacterial integration. The data presented a compelling case that LGT occurs in the human somatic genome and that it could have an important role in cancer and other human diseases associated with mutations. It is possible that LGT mutations play a role in carcinogenesis, yet it is also possible that they could simply be passenger mutations.
The investigators suggest several competing ideas to explain the results, though more research is needed for definitive answers. One possibility is that the mutations are part of carcinogenesis, the process by which normal cells turn into cancer cells. Alternatively, tumor cells are so very rapidly proliferating that they may be more permissive to lateral gene transfer. It is also possible that the bacteria are causing these mutations because they benefit the bacteria.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health's Director's New Innovator Award Program (1-DP2-OD007372) and the NSF Microbial Sequencing Program (EF-0826732).
"This is the type of basic science research, conducted using the analysis of much publicly available genomic data, that makes us leaders in the cutting edge field of genomic science and personalized medicine," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "It is just this type of research that will lead us to a new world of personalized medicine, in which doctors can use each patient's genomic make-up to determine care and preventive measures. We are excited to be a part of this future with the outstanding work of our Institute for Genome Sciences."About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
27.04.2017 | Information Technology
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences