Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pancreatic cancer: Gene duplication explains tumor aggressiveness

30.01.2018

Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer associated with the highest mortality rates in the world. However, until now genetic changes that could explain the aggressiveness and early metastasis of this form of cancer had not been found. A team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) has now shown that those characteristics can be explained by specific gene amplifications which occur along various evolutionary pathways of the cancer. Based on this discovery, they have derived basic principles underlying the biology of this cancer type.

Until now, scientists have failed to establish a link between the properties of pancreatic cancer, such as its aggressiveness, and changes, i.e. mutations, in the tumor’s genome. Moreover, pancreatic cancer forms metastases much faster than other types of cancer. Here too, the genetic causes are unclear.


The research of Roland Rad and his team ist focused on molecular and translational aspects of cancer development.

A. Heddergott / Technical University of Munich

A team headed by Professor Roland Rad and Professor Dieter Saur of TUM University Hospital rechts der Isar and the German Cancer Consortium has taken an important step towards solving both mysteries.

With the help of various mouse models for pancreatic cancer, they have succeeded in elucidating the molecular pathways of tumor development in detail and have gained a better understanding of how various characteristics of the disease arise. The study was published in the journal Nature.

Tumor cells have multiple defective copies of a cancer gene

Healthy cells in humans possess two copies of each gene. For their experiments, the researchers mutated one of the two copies of the KRAS gene in mice. The gene plays a key role in cellular proliferation and is activated in 90% of all human pancreatic tumors.

Such genes are referred to as oncogenes. The team headed by Roland Rad made a surprising discovery: The mutant gene was often duplicated even in very early stages of the cancer. In cases where a tumor had not doubled the mutated KRAS gene copy, the researchers discovered duplications in other cancer genes.

“It therefore appears that the cell amplifies the growth signal due to the presence of extra gene copies. This model of dosage amplification during tumor development had not previously been considered,” says Sebastian Müller, lead author of the study. “We also showed that as the number of mutant KRAS copies increases, the tumor’s aggressiveness and ability to metastasize also increases.”

Disruption of endogenous protective mechanisms determines the evolution of the cancer

Normally, healthy cells have their own protective mechanisms to prevent mutations from accumulating. So how could the cells develop such dosage amplification without being prevented from doing so?

“This shows the importance of mouse models, which allow us to closely observe and experimentally review the extraordinarily complex processes of cancer development at the molecular level: from healthy cells to cancer precursors through to aggressive tumors and their spread to other organs,” Professor Dieter Saur explains.

After the KRAS mutation was induced by the researchers, other mutations in what are known as tumor suppressor genes developed. A healthy cell possesses a whole series of such protective genes to prevent cancer from developing. A significant finding by the team was that either the mutant KRAS gene or another cancer gene is amplified, depending on which tumor suppressor gene is affected and to what degree its function is impaired.

Key developmental stages explained

Only after the cell's inbuilt protective mechanisms have been switched off and dosage amplification occurs does a tumor ultimately form. Which pathway the cell follows, and which genes are involved then largely determine the characteristics of a pancreatic tumor.

For the first time, the dosage amplification model allows us to identify genetic patterns that explain a tumor’s aggressiveness and metastasis. “We have indications that our discovery constitutes a fundamental principle in the development of tumors and plays an essential role in other cancers. We’re now investigating the extent to which these new insights into cancer biology can be used to develop new therapeutic strategies,” says Professor Roland Rad, explaining the team’s next research goals.


The following institutions contributed to the study: Technical University of Munich (Central Institute of Translational Cancer Research, Clinic and Policlinic for Internal Medicine II, Institute of Pathology), DKTK and DKZF Heidelberg; The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge; Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (Anthropology & Human Genomics und Innere Medizin II des Klinikums Großhadern), Helmholtz Zentrum München (Research Unit Radiation Cytogenetics); Universidad de Oviedo (Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, IUOPA und CINN-CSIC), Instituto de Medicina Oncológica y Molecular de Asturias (IMOMA), Oviedo, University of Cambridge (Department of Veterinary Medicine), Instituto de Medicina Oncológica y Molecular de Asturias, Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria.

Original publication
S. Mueller, T. Engleitner, R. Maresch, M. Zukowska, S. Lange, T. Kaltenbacher, B. Konukiewitz, R. Öllinger, M. Zwiebel, A. Strong, H.-Y. Yen, R. Banerjee, S. Louzada, B. Fu, B. Seidler, J. Götzfried, K. Schuck, Z. Hassan, A. Arbeiter, N. Schönhuber, S. Klein, C. Veltkamp, M. Friedrich, L. Rad, M. Barenboim, C. Ziegenhain, J. Hess, O. M. Dovey, S. Eser, S. Parekh, F. Constantino-Casas, J. de la Rosa, M. I. Sierra, M. Fraga, J. Mayerle, G. Klöppel, J. Cadiñanos, P. Liu, G. Vassiliou, W. Weichert, K. Steiger, W. Enard, R. M. Schmid, F. Yang, K. Unger, G. Schneider, I. Varela, A. Bradley, D. Saur, R. Rad, Evolutionary routes and KRAS dosage define pancreatic cancer phenotypes, Nature, 201, DOI: 10.1038/nature25459
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25459

Contact
Prof. Dr. med. Roland Rad
Clinic and Policlinic for Internal Medicine II
University Hospital rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich
Tel.: (0 89) 41 40 - 43 74
Email: roland.rad@tum.de

www.tum.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/34426/ - This text on the web
https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/ - All press releases of the Technical University of Munich
https://www.med2.mri.tum.de/en/research/ag-rad.php - Research Group of Roland Rad
https://www.med2.mri.tum.de/en/research/ag-saur.php# - Research Group of Dieter Saur

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>