Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic 'Shut Down' Trigger Discovered In Healthy Immune Cells

Date:
May 10, 2007
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
A fundamental genetic mechanism that shuts down an important gene in healthy immune system cells has been discovered that could one day lead to new therapies against infections, leukemia and other cancers.

A fundamental genetic mechanism that shuts down an important gene in healthy immune system cells has been discovered that could one day lead to new therapies against infections, leukemia and other cancers. Results of a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study on the mechanism, called a somatic stop-codon mutation, were reported in the online journal PLoS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science.

Related Articles


"This kind of loss-of-function mutation can be very dangerous, and it is the first such mutation that has been identified in normal immune cells in blood," said Bora E. Baysal, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We did control experiments for two years to make sure it was real and not a technical error."

Dr. Baysal and his colleagues tested 180 samples, including blood from healthy individuals and other material from those with childhood leukemia, looking at specific portions of DNA in immune cells known as monocytes, natural killer cells and lymphocytes. These cells are key to the body's immune response against infection and disease. The investigators found somatic stop-codon mutations in an average of 5.8 percent of crucial portions of genetic material that deliver instructions from DNA, called messenger RNA, in normal blood samples and in a quarter of leukemia samples.

"DNA is the blueprint for all living cells. It carries the genetic code for most biological functions and is passed virtually unchanged from generation to generation," said Dr. Baysal, who also is an associate investigator at the university-affiliated Magee-Womens Research Institute. "Harmful alterations in the code -- mutations -- can produce genetic disorders and play an important role in the development of cancer. Normal cells such as monocytes, lymphocytes and natural killer cells have many mechanisms to recognize and repair mutations, but a stop-codon mutation is a kind of permanent "off" switch that has escaped DNA repair," he added.

"We believe there is a good biological reason for this. It may allow the cells to survive in a low-oxygen environment, such as where there is cancer or infection," said Dr. Baysal. "It is part of the process for immune cells to 'armor up' for battle against cancer cells and other diseases."

Earlier research on the mutated gene suggests the stop-codon mutation might be part of the programmed adaptive response to oxygen deprivation. This mutation and its location is "unusual because it predicts loss-of-function, it targets a classical tumor-suppressor gene, and it occurs in (peripheral blood mononuclear cells)," Dr. Baysal wrote, adding that the mutation is present at much higher levels in messenger RNA compared to DNA.

"This may give us a tool to modify the immune cells' survival in a low oxygen environment, which could help the cells to survive and fight infections and tumors," said Dr. Baysal, calling the mutated gene a potential "therapeutic target."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Genetic 'Shut Down' Trigger Discovered In Healthy Immune Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161040.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2007, May 10). Genetic 'Shut Down' Trigger Discovered In Healthy Immune Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161040.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Genetic 'Shut Down' Trigger Discovered In Healthy Immune Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161040.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins