Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene switch important in cancer discovered

02.11.2012
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Helsinki in Finland have shown that the 'switches' that regulate the expression of genes play a major role in the development of cancer.

In a study, published in Science, they have investigated a gene region that contains a particular single nucleotide variant associated with increased risk for developing colorectal and prostate cancers - and found that removing this region caused dramatic resistance to tumor formation.

Genome-wide association studies have revealed genomic regions associated with more than 200 diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and different types of cancer. The unveiled human genetic variation has attracted much attention in both scientific and popular press. However, the mechanisms by which these genomic regions act are not fully understood. One suggestion that has generated considerable interest is the possibility that the risk polymorphisms located far from genes could function as gene regulatory elements or 'switches' that regulate expression of genes.

In the current study, which was conducted in mice, scientists have analyzed one particular single nucleotide variant in a region associated with increased risk for developing colorectal and prostate cancers, but whose mechanism of action has been unclear. Although this variant increases cancer risk only by 20 per cent, it is very common and therefore accounts for more inherited cancer than any other currently known genetic variant or mutation.

The scientists removed the gene region containing the risk variant from the mouse genome, and found that as a result the mice were healthy but displayed a small decrease in the expression of a nearby cancer gene, called MYC. However, when these mice were tested for the ability to form tumours after activation of an oncogenic signal that causes colorectal cancer in humans, they showed dramatic resistance to tumor formation. The removed gene region thus appears to act as an important gene switch promoting cancer, and without it tumors develop much more rarely.

According to the scientists, these results show that although the gene variants - which make individual humans different from each other - in general have a small impact on disease development, the gene switches in which they reside can play a major role.

"Our study also highlights that growth of normal cells and cancer cells is driven by different gene switches, suggesting that further work to find ways to control the activity of such disease-specific switches could lead to novel, highly specific approaches for therapeutic intervention", says Professor Jussi Taipale, who led the study.

The work was supported by the Center for Biosciences at Karolinska Institutet, the Karolinska University Hospital, the Science for Life Laboratory, the Academy of Finland’s Center of Excellence in Cancer Genetics Research, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Foundation, the European Research Council, and the EU FP7 Health project SYSCOL.

Publication: 'Mice Lacking a Myc Enhancer Element that Includes Human SNP rs6983267 Are Resistant to Intestinal Tumors', Sur, I., Hallikas, O., Vähärautio, A., Yan, J., Turunen, M., Enge, M., Taipale, M., Karhu, A., Aaltonen, L. A., and Taipale, J., Science, online 1 November 2012.

Caption: Jussi Taipale, photo credit to Ulf Sirborn.
For more information, please contact:
Jussi Taipale, Professor
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet
Tel: +46(0)72 282 4847
Email: Jussi.taipale@ki.se
Inderpreet Sur, PhD
Clinical Research Center, Karolinska University Hospital
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet
Tel: +46 (0)8-58586895
Email: Inderpreet.sur@karolinska.se
Martin Enge, PhD
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet
Tel: +46 (0)8-58586895
Email: martin.enge@ki.se

Katarina Sternudd | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se
http://ki.se/pressroom

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Bioinspired nanoscale drug delivery method developed by WSU, PNNL researchers
10.01.2019 | Washington State University

nachricht How herpesviruses shape the immune system
09.01.2019 | German Center for Infection Research

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: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

Im Focus: Programming light on a chip

Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Velcro for human cells

16.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Kiel physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids

16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

The pace at which the world’s permafrost soils are warming

16.01.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>