Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Jefferson Researchers Develop Microchip to Track Genetic Signature of Cancer and Normal Tissue

22.06.2004


MicroRNAs (miRNAs), tiny pieces of genetic material that can serve as stop signs for gene expression and protein synthesis, are thought to be important in the development of cancer. Now, researchers at Jefferson Medical College and the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have developed a technique that allows them to find which miRNA genes are expressed – and how – in both cancerous and normal tissue.


Scientists, led by Carlo Croce, M.D., director of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center and professor of microbiology and immunology at Jefferson Medical College, have developed a microarray chip onto which they were able to put all the known miRNA genes in both human and mouse. They found that each tissue they tested had its own characteristic pattern of miRNA gene expression.

The work might enable scientists to gain a better understanding of the roles of miRNAs in cancer and provide targets for future drug development. They reported their findings June 21, 2004 online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Croce explains that miRNAs are thought to play important roles in regulating gene expression during development and cell differentiation. MiRNAs inhibit the function of their targets, typically messenger RNA, which is involved in gene expression. They either degrade the messenger RNA or block its translation. Cells in organisms from yeast to mammals make interfering RNA to shut off gene expression in development.



Dr. Croce and his colleagues had previously shown that deletions in miRNA genes were involved in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common adult leukemia in the Western world. They also had reported that human miRNA genes are frequently located in “fragile” areas of the genome that are vulnerable to mutation. “We think the miRNA genes are in fact involved in many human cancers,” he says.

“As a result, we have a number of markers that allow us to characterize specific tissue in specific cells,” Dr. Croce says. “Now the chip allows us to compare normal tissue to malignant tissue.

“This kind of approach will give us important clues about the gene regulation in a number of cells in normal and cancer tissue,” he says. “It opens new avenues for treatment because these miRNA genes are so small, they can get into cells and be used as drugs. Characterizing their targets might help in understanding cancer phenotypes.”

MiRNA genes can function differently. Take miR-16, for example, which is one of the miRNA genes Dr. Croce has studied in CLL. It functions as a tumor suppressor, and probably some of its targets are oncogenes, he says. Tumor suppressor genes are normal genes that protect against the development of cancer. Oncogenes, on the other hand, promote excessive cell growth, the hallmark of cancer.

“If the miR is expressed at a high level, however, the RNA level of the targets would be low and the expression of the oncogene would be low,” he says. Conversely, “knocking out” the miR gene would mean the expression of the oncogene would be high.

“MiRNAs are a new mechanism involved in malignant transformation,” he says. “I think it will be found to be a very generalized mechanism and provide a lot of opportunities for treatment.

“The chip is an easy way to test for miRNA alterations,” he says. “When you look at a cancer, the chip will tell you which miRNAs are in fact there and which are not. Then you can study the targets and figure out their role in cancer.

“The next step is to continue to find out how these genes are regulated and what they regulate – their targets and their roles in cancers.”

Steven Benowitz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jefferson.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>