Navigation Links
Scientists find surprising new influence on cancer genes
Date:2/24/2013

LA JOLLA, CA February 24, 2013 Small stretches of DNA in the human genome are known as "pseudogenes" because, while their sequences are nearly identical to those of various genes, they have long been thought to be non-coding "junk" DNA.

But now, a new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) shows how pseudogenes can regulate the activity of a cancer-related gene called PTEN. The study also shows that pseudogenes can be targeted to control PTEN's activity.

Published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the team's findings suggest a much larger role for pseudogenes than previously thoughta discovery that changes our understanding of the internal landscape of living cells, adding a new layer of complexity to an already crowded topography marked by multiple, overlapping, interacting gene networks.

Understanding how pseudogenes interact and control gene networks in the human body may lead to new ways of addressing diseases tied to problems that arise due to disruptions in these gene networks, said TSRI scientist Kevin Morris, PhD, who led the research in collaboration with scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"This has improved our knowledge of how genes in cancer are regulated and how we may now be able to control them," Morris said.

Genes and Pseudogenes at Work

The focus of the human genome project, which decoded our entire DNA sequence a decade ago, was largely on genesthe genetic sequences that encode proteins and thus control processes that govern and regulate all biological functions. But these genes are only a small part of the genome. The vast majority of DNA in the human genome is non-coding, meaning that it does not make protein.

In the early days of molecular biology, scientists called these vast stretches of DNA "junk" because of their presumed inactivity. Pseudogenes, which make up vast swaths of non-coding DNA, were considered part of the junkeven though they resembled genesbecause they did not code for proteins.

The results from the new study contradict that view by showing these bits of genetic material playing a profound role in controlling the activity of human genes. The control or loss of control of genes can make the difference between healthy and diseased tissue. In cancer, for instance, some genes become more active, while other genes that should normally shut down a cancerous growth become suppressed.

In the new work, Morris and his colleagues showed that pseudogenes can influence the activity of a human gene known as the phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN). PTEN has long been implicated in cancer and is categorized as a "tumor suppressor" gene, meaning that it has the ability to arrest the growth of a tumor. But in many forms of cancer, PTEN is shut down, allowing the tumor to grow unchecked.

Intriguing Possibilities

Morris and his colleagues found that pseudogenes sharing sequences in common with PTEN can regulate the gene in two waysknocking it down by suppressing the "promoter" for the PTEN gene, preventing the gene from being expressed, or soaking up PTEN-targeted regulatory micro-RNAs affecting the PTEN protein after the gene transcripts have been expressed.

Some companies are already looking at pseudogenes such as PTEN as targets of potential new drugs, Morris said, and the new work is a proof of principle that targeting pseudogenes can modulate the growth of cancer cells grown in the laboratory.

The same principle may be applicable to other diseases where the aberrant activity of a normal human gene is in playor in infectious diseases, as a way of shutting down certain crucial genes belonging to viruses or bacteria.

Morris noted, however, there are many practical issues with controlling pseudogenes. Designing a drug targeting pseudogenes directly would be difficult to administer with current technology, as these drugs would need to be delivered into the exact cells where they are needed without spreading to other, healthy tissues where they could be toxic.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists find bone-marrow environment that helps produce infection-fighting T and B cells
2. MBL scientists find genes linked to human neurological disorders in sea lamprey genome
3. Scientists identify molecular system that could help develop treatments for Alzheimers disease
4. Scientists publish analysis of algae parasite impact on algae biofuel in PLOS ONE
5. UCLA scientists develop new therapeutics that could accelerate wound healing
6. Insects scientists and children meeting in Las Cruces, New Mexico
7. Brown University scientists to discuss resilience of coastal communities at AAAS
8. Going negative: Stanford scientists explore new technologies that remove atmospheric CO2
9. Biodiversity protects against disease, scientists find
10. Scientists develop improved fire management tools for Africas savannas
11. NTU Provost receives prestigious Imperial College fellowship joining the ranks of top UK scientists
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists find surprising new influence on cancer genes
(Date:6/1/2016)... 2016 Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled ... Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through ... Research report, " Global Biometrics Market By Type, ... Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics market is ... account of growing security concerns across various end use ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, May 9, 2016 ... choice when it comes to expanding freedom for high ... Even in today,s globally connected world, there ... online conferencing system could ever duplicate sealing your deal ... are obtaining second passports by taking advantage of citizenship ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... DUBLIN , April 27, 2016 ... of the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report ... ) , The analysts forecast ... a CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... a number of sectors such as the healthcare, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... for clinical trials, announced today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT ... care circle with the physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Regular discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt ... said Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the ... pointed to the country,s inflation target, which is set by ... "In certain areas there needs to ... goals, why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the leading manufacturers ... Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing high quality ... list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as Whole Foods, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This ... introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: