Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Insight into DNA’s "Weakest Links" May Yield Clues to Cancer Biology

11.03.2005


The chromosomes of mammals, including humans, contain regions that are particularly prone to breaking under conditions of stress and in cancer. Now, new research by geneticists at Duke University Medical Center finds that yeast cells also contain such weak links in DNA and begins to reveal the molecular characteristics of these links that might help to explain them.



The findings, published in the March 11, 2005, issue of Cell, suggest that yeast may offer a useful model system for studying the fundamental properties of so-called DNA fragile sites, providing new insight into the chromosomal instability found in cancer cells, said the researchers. "If you look at solid tumors in humans, you see that the chromosomes of cancer cells exhibit incredible instability," said Thomas Petes, Ph.D., chair of genetics and microbiology at Duke. "Now, we have been able to mimic some of that instability in yeast cells and can begin to ask whether there is anything special that defines those places where chromosomes tend to break."

Organisms normally exhibit extremely low rates of mutation and chromosomal rearrangements. Conditions that elevate genomic instability lead to an increase in cell death and, in some cases, an increased incidence of cancer, Petes said. Earlier work by other researchers had shown that mammalian chromosomes break at particular sites under certain types of stress or upon exposure to particular drugs, he said. Evidence has suggested that chromosomes break when DNA replication – the process by which DNA copies itself before cell division – slows or stalls. However, the DNA characteristics that make particular sites vulnerable to breakage had remained unclear, he said.


The researchers slowed DNA replication in yeast cells by reducing the availability of one form of DNA polymerase, which are enzymes critical in DNA duplication. Yeast with abnormally low levels of DNA polymerase exhibited higher frequencies of chromosomal loss and aberrations than normal, resulting when broken chromosomes re-joined with others to form novel arrangements, the researchers reported. Through further examination of breakpoints in a small region of one chromosome, the researchers found that the fragile sites occurred at locations along the DNA containing "retrotransposons" called Ty elements. Retrotransposons are mobile gene segments that duplicate themselves and insert the new copies back into other sites in the genome.

The most common breakpoint involved two Ty elements in an inverted, head-to-head orientation, they reported. That finding led the researchers to suggest one possible mechanism for chromosomal breaks and rearrangements. A delay in DNA synthesis leads to an increase in single-stranded DNA, the researchers explained. While DNA is in a single-stranded form, multiple copies of retrotransposons are more likely to interact, forming a kink in the DNA. Rearrangements may occur when those kinks are improperly excised and repaired by rejoining with retrotransposons on other chromosomes. "The current findings offer the first indication that yeast have fragile sites," said Francene Lemoine, Ph.D., of Duke, first author of the study. "The finding will allow us to develop a simple model to study fragile sites in a way that can’t be done in more complex organisms."

The findings suggest that mammalian and yeast fragile sites may have common features, an indication that a common mechanism may underlie their occurrence, Petes said. Fragile sites in mammalian cells tend to duplicate late and also include sequences prone to forming kinks, or hairpin structures, like those observed in yeast. "The findings may ultimately help us better understand what goes wrong in cancer cells, an important step in developing a better plan of attack against the disease," Petes added.

Collaborators on the study include Natasha Degtyareva, of Emory University, and Kirill Lobachev, of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation.

Kendall Morgan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>