Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Newly Identified Stem Cells May Hold Clues to Colon Cancer

02.04.2012
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers have identified a new population of intestinal stem cells that may hold clues to the origin of colorectal cancer.

This new stem cell population, reported March 30 in the journal Cell, appears to be relatively quiescent (inactive) – in contrast to the recent discovery of intestinal stem cells that multiply rapidly – and is marked by a protein, Lrig1, that may act as a “brake” on cell growth and proliferation.

The researchers have also developed a new and clinically relevant mouse model of colorectal cancer that investigators can now use to better understand where and how the disease arises, as well as for probing new therapeutic targets.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. These tumors are thought to arise from a series of mutations in intestinal stem cells, which are long-lived, self-renewing cells that gives rise to all cell types in the intestinal tract.

For more than 30 years, scientists believed that intestinal stem cells were primarily quiescent, proliferating only rarely in order to protect the tissue against cancer. Then, in 2007, researchers reported finding a population of intestinal stem cells (marked by the molecule Lgr5) that were highly proliferative.

Those findings “really changed the way we think about intestinal stem cells,” said Robert Coffey, Jr., M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, co-chair of Vanderbilt’s Epithelial Biology Center and senior author on the study.

“It came to so dominate the field that it raised the question about whether quiescent stem cells even exist…and that’s where we enter into the picture.”

Coffey’s lab studies the epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling pathway – which includes a family of receptors known as ErbBs – and its role in cancers of epithelial tissues, like the intestinal tract.

Postdoctoral fellow Anne Powell, Ph.D., led the recent experiments showing that Lrig1, a molecule that regulates ErbB activity, is present in intestinal cells that have the qualities of stem cells (self-renewal, and the ability to produce all the cells of the intestine).

“Essentially, what we show is that the Lrig1-expressing cells are stem cells and they are largely quiescent,” Powell said. “We also show that they’re distinct from the Lgr5-expressing stem cells that had become a sort of ‘hallmark’ stem cell population…with different gene expression profiles and different proliferative status.”

They also showed that Lrig1 is not only a marker of intestinal stem cells, but also acts as a tumor suppressor and inhibits the growth and proliferative signals of the ErbB family – acting as a sort of “brake” on cell proliferation that can lead to cancer.

Postdoctoral fellow Yang Wang, Ph.D., eliminated Lrig1 in mice and showed that nearly all of those mice developed intestinal tumors, providing further evidence suggesting that Lrig1 functions as a tumor suppressor.

The findings underscore the importance of ErbB signaling in the behavior of intestinal stem cells from which colorectal cancer may arise.

Most exciting, said Coffey, is that the mouse model his lab has generated as a part of these studies is one of the only mouse models to develop tumors in section of the intestines where most human tumors develop: the colon. One additional advantage of this model, in contrast to others, is that the tumors develop quickly and can be easily monitored with endoscopy, which will make it easier to assess how therapeutic interventions are working.

“We are fairly confident that this will be the ‘go-to’ model to study colon cancer in mice for the foreseeable future,” Coffey said.

Emily Poulin, Jim Higginbotham, Ph.D., and Jeff Franklin, Ph.D., (from the Coffey lab), Kay Washington, M.D., Ph.D., and Yu Shyr, Ph.D., contributed to the research.

The work was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Craig Boerner | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.vanderbilt.edu

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>