Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer

14.04.2011
To ensure normal fetal development and prevent disease, it is crucial that certain genes are on or off in the right time intervals. Researchers in Professor Kristian Helin's group at BRIC and Centre for Epigenetics, University of Copenhagen, have now shown how the TET1 enzyme controls the activity of our genes. The results have just been published in the journal Nature.
Control of our genes
The complete human genetic code was mapped in 2000. However, it has become clear that the genetic code itself only in part can answer how an individual develops and is protected against disease. What is detrimental is also how our genes are controlled - what genes are on or off at certain times. This is in part regulated by specific cellular enzymes that can attach small chemical groups, methyl groups, to our DNA:

"The methyl groups can turn off the gene that lies in a stretch of DNA where it is added. TET1 is another type of enzyme that can fine tune the signals that control gene activity by changing the methyl groups which thereafter are removed," says Kristian Helin.

TET1 controls fetal development
Kristine Williams, Jesper Christensen and Marianne Terndrup Pedersen are the three key persons in the Helin laboratory at BRIC contributing with the new results:

"Our most important finding is that TET1 acts like a safe guard and prevents that methyl groups are attached to genes that needs to be active for normal growth and development of our cells. That is crucial for normal fetal development," says PhD student Kristine Williams.

Selected genes needs to be active in the stem cells of our body, before the cells are specialised to one of the more than 200 specialised cell types that exist in our body. Other genes need only to be active in specialised cell types as for example liver cells, muscle cells or nerve cells.

When cancer cells develop
The results also contribute to the understanding of what goes wrong when some cells accidently develop into cancer cells. The functions of our body are dependent on constant cellular renewal through division of the cells. A large cellular machinery ensures that our DNA is intact and copied correctly when our cells divide. This is crucial for normal development and function of the cells. In a worst case scenario, changes in the DNA, so called mutations, can result in development of cancer. Specialised genes called tumor suppressor genes are especially important for fighting cancer:

"If methyl groups are deployed to genes that are usually active in normal cells, the genes are turned off and this can be detrimental. If it happens to tumor suppressor genes, it can be a step towards cancer development as the genes no longer can protect against unintended cell growth," says Kristian Helin.

TET enzymes and blood cancers
So TET1 can fight cancers by controlling the activity and protective function of tumor suppressor genes. Our cells also contain a close relative to TET1, the TET2 enzyme, which is the most frequently mutated gene in blood cancers. The researches at BRIC has discovered that TET2 also controls gene activity by facilitating removal of methyl groups from the DNA and they are currently extending these studies to cellular models for cancer development. Results from these studies will supply insight into the mechanisms leading to blood cancers and can potentially lead to development of new therapeutics.

Original paper: "TET1 and hydroxymethylcytosine in transcription and DNA methylation fidelity", Williams et al., Nature April 13, 2011

Kristian Helin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bric.ku.dk
http://news.ku.dk/all_news/2011/2011.4/stem_cells_cancer_bric_nature/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>