Can plant research lead to new insights in cancer research?
Ghent - The development of cancer is a complex process with a number of different causes. The root problem is loss of control in the cell division process. A fundamental biological process, cell division can be studied in many organisms. Researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) connected with Ghent University are studying cell division in plants and thereby uncovering general principles. They are now revealing the importance of the DEL1 protein in the control of cell division in the Arabidopsis plant. The scientists suspect that the human variant of this protein, E2F7, performs the same essential function in human cells. Their research is bringing to light a potentially new class of genes that can suppress the growth of tumors.
New insights from an unexpected quarter
Loss of control...
Our body is constructed of cells that contain the hereditary material (DNA) distributed among chromosomes - 46 in human cells. Under normal circumstances, our bodys cells divide continuously in a very controlled manner: every cell division is preceded by a doubling of the DNA, so that, after division, two cells are formed, each containing 46 chromosomes. But sometimes this process goes wrong, giving rise to cells with an incorrect number of chromosomes. Such an occurrence can undermine the precise control system governing cell division, so that the cell begins to divide without restraint, turning into a cancer cell.
In a small plant like Arabidopsis (or the mouse ear cress), processes such as DNA doubling and cell division are also subject to a complex control system. The VIB research group, under the direction of Lieven De Veylder and Dirk Inzé, is studying cell division in Arabidopsis during the plants development and, in particular, the function of the DEL1 protein in the cell division process. For this study, they modified plants genetically so that they no longer produced DEL1. The researchers saw that the cells of these modified plants contained noticeably more DNA than the cells of normal Arabidopsis plants. By shutting down DEL1, a doubling of the cells DNA is no longer automatically followed by cell division. Their research demonstrates the importance of DEL1 in the control mechanism of DNA doubling and cell division.
From plants to people?
De Veylder and Inzé suspect that the E2F7 protein - the human counterpart to DEL1 - performs a function in human cells analogous to that of DEL1 in Arabidopsis. According to these scientists, an error in E2F7 could lead to cells containing too many chromosomes, and thus to cancer cells. They want to develop this line of reasoning further with a partner in cancer research in order to better understand the factors that underlie cancer.
Sooike Stoops | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...