Study identifies how genes get shut down in cancer cells

November 14th, 2007 - 10:37 am ICT by admin  

The study at the University of Southern California (USC) has determined how genes are switched off in the cancer cells through distinctive changes in the density of nucleosomes within the cells.

The researchers showed that locks of cancerous cells involved distinctive changes in density of nucleosomes in the cell.

The study also explored three nuclesomes which were completely absent from the start site in the cancer cells and were present in the methylated and silenced promoter, suggesting that epigenetic silencing could be accomplished by stable placement of nucleosomes into previously vacant positions.

The authors worked on DNA cytosine methylation-the addition group of specific chemicals that atretches of DNA that can lock or silence a gene and ultimately lead to silencing by enabling the stable presence of nucleosomes at the start site of cancer-related gene.

The researchers conducted this experiment with a notion that would help explore new therapies to switch the gene back on and help in novel treatment of human cancer.

“The study shows for the first time exactly how genes get shut down in cancer cells. It identifies what the target looks like so that new therapies can be designed to turn them back on,” said study lead author Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Distinguished Professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“We believe these findings will contribute to the development of cancer therapies.

“We were surprised to find how rigid the inactive structure is, and how rapidly it can be dissolved by drug treatment,” he added.

The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and was published in the Nov. 13 issue of the journal Cancer Cell. (ANI)

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