Different Cancers Can Share Genetic Signatures
Bethesda, MD - Cancer is a disease of the genome. It arises when genes involved in promoting or suppressing cell growth sustain mutations that disturb the normal stop and go signals. There are more than 100 different types of cancer, most of which derive their names and current treatment based on their tissue of origin—breast, colon, or brain, for example. But because of advances in DNA sequencing and analysis, that soon may be about to change.
Using data generated through The Cancer Genome Atlas, NIH-funded researchers recently compared the genomic fingerprints of tumor samples from nearly 3,300 patients with 12 types of cancer: acute myeloid leukemia, bladder, brain (glioblastoma multiforme), breast, colon, endometrial, head and neck, kidney, lung (adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), ovarian, and rectal. Confirming but greatly extending what smaller studies have shown, the researchers discovered that even when cancers originate from vastly different tissues, they can show similar features at the DNA level.
In fact, the new analysis, just published in the journal Nature , lists 127 significantly mutated genes that are shared by subsets of samples across the 12 cancer types. Many of these mutated genes are notorious culprits that can initiate cancer’s uncontrolled growth or drive its progression. But others are relatively new suspects in the cancer line-up. These include genes that regulate the activity of other genes, that control the disposal of proteins, and that modify how DNA wraps around histones, which are spool-like proteins that provide structural support to chromosomes. Continue>
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