Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

USC study in Nature Genetics supports a stem cell origin of cancer

11.01.2007
New USC research also bolsters belief that epigenetic events precede genetic events in cancer development

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) recently made significant strides toward settling a decades-old debate centering on the role played by stem cells in cancer development. According to the study's findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Genetics and now available online, genes that are reversibly repressed in embryonic stem cells are over-represented among genes that are permanently silenced in cancers; this link lends support to the increasingly discussed theory that cancer is rooted in small populations of stem cells.

USC researchers uncovered this link after observing that of 177 genes repressed by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins, fully 77 showed evidence of cancer-associated enzymatic modification of DNA (known as methylation). "Finding that a Polycomb target in an embryonic stem cell is 12 times more likely to become abnormally methylated in cancer is highly significant," says Peter Laird, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers and associate professor of surgery, biochemistry and molecular biology, and director of basic research for surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Laird and his colleagues discovered that some genes repressed by Polycomb in embryonic stem cells are essentially pre-marked to become permanently silenced by DNA methylation. "This permanent silencing," Laird explains, "prevents embryonic stem cells from differentiating, and they thus become the seeds of cancer development later in life." USC researchers made these observations in relation to breast, colorectal, lung, and ovarian cancer.

Not only does the USC study provide empirical evidence for a stem cell origin of cancer, but, according to Laird, "It also supports a very early involvement of epigenetics in cancer. We found that cancer arises in cells that have already undergone epigenetic alterations," he adds, "which points to epigenetic events preceding genetic events in cancer development." Laird notes that this theory, while relatively new, is gaining support among scientists.

Findings from the USC study also can be applied to stem cell research funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created through passage of California Proposition 71 in 2004. "One of CIRM's aims," says Laird, "is to culture and differentiate embryonic stems cells – cells that would then be placed into patients. Since our research shows that cancer is rooted in stem cells, it would be very important to screen for the epigenetic abnormalities that we uncovered, so as to prevent people from receiving potentially cancer-prone cells."

Looking ahead, Laird and his USC colleagues would next like to focus on what causes some genes to transition from temporary repression to permanent silencing. "Once we determine that," Laird explains, "we can turn to the fundamental question: How can we prevent this transition?"

Jennifer Chan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

Further reports about: Cancer Embryonic USC embryonic stem embryonic stem cell

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>