Newly published research explores the role of 14-3-3sigma in tumour suppression New research out of McGill University's Goodman Cancer Research Centre provides compelling new evidence that a gene known as 14-3-3sigma plays a critical role in halting breast cancer initiation and progression. The study, led by the Dept. of Biochemistry's William J. Muller, was published online in the journal Cancer Discovery. The discovery of this new target points to novel therapies that eventually could slow or stop breast cancer progression. Muller also says that this gene is likely a major player in a number of other types of cancer. Based on past clinical observations revealing that the expression of gene 14-3-3Ï is silenced in a large percentage of breast cancers, researchers had long suspected that it played a role in stopping cancer cells from dividing.
Most of the time, Stefano Torriani is a plant pathologist. His most recent research project revolved around the fungus Mycosphaerella graminicola where he analyzed a special class of genes that encode cell wall degrading enzymes. A virulent fungus relies heavily on these enzymes when attacking a plant. But while investigating these genes, Torriani came across something odd; one gene came in different sizes in different individuals. To further explore and better understand this phenomenon, the researcher deviated from his original plan and drew in other experts, including Daniel Croll, Patrick Brunner and Eva Stukenbrock from the research group led by Bruce McDonald, Professor of Plant Pathology, ETH Zurich. What they discovered after a year of feverish research throws new light on genome evolution - but still leaves many questions unanswered.
Scientists investigating the interactions, or binding patterns, of a major tumor-suppressor protein known as p53 with the entire genome in normal human cells have turned up key differences from those observed in cancer cells. The distinct binding patterns reflect differences in the chromatin (the way DNA is packed with proteins), which may be important for understanding the function of the tumor suppressor protein in cancer cells. The study was conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and is published in the December 15 issue of the journal Cell Cycle. "No other study has shown such a dramatic difference in a tumor suppressor protein binding to DNA between normal and cancer-derived cells, " said Brookhaven biologist Krassimira Botcheva, lead author on the paper.
The newfound scientific power to quickly "fingerprint" species via DNA is being deployed to unmask quack herbal medicines, reveal types of ancient Arctic life frozen in permafrost, expose what eats what in nature, and halt agricultural and forestry pests at borders, among other applications across a wide array of public interests. The explosion of creative new uses of DNA "barcoding" -- identifying species based on a snippet of DNA -- will occupy centre stage as 450 world experts convene at Australia's the University of Adelaide Nov. 28 to Dec. 3. DNA barcode technology has already sparked US Congressional hearings by exposing widespread "fish fraud" -- mislabelling cheap fish as more desirable and expensive species like tuna or snapper. Other studies this year revealed unlisted ingredients in herbal tea bags.
Controlling Forces Between Oppositely Charged Polymers Opens A New Route Towards Creating Vectors For Gene Therapy
Gene therapy can only be effective if delivered by a stable complex molecule. Now, scientists have determined the conditions that would stabilise complex molecular structures that are subject to inherent attractions and repulsions triggered by electric charges at the surfaces of the molecules, in a study about to be published in EPJ EÂ, by Valentina Mengarelli and her colleagues from the Solid State Physics Laboratory at the Paris-Sud University in Orsay, France, in collaboration with Paris 7 and Evry Universities scientists. The authors studied soluble complexes made of negatively charged DNA or another negatively charged polymer - polystyrene-sulfonate (PSSNa) - and a so-called condensation agent, which is a negatively charged polymer, known as linear polyethyleneimine (PEI). PEI participates in the condensation process by tying onto a molecule such as DNA, like tangled hair, to form an overall positively charged DNA/polymer complex structure.