Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer

Date:
April 13, 2011
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
To ensure normal fetal development and prevent disease, it is crucial that certain genes are turned on or off in the right time intervals. Researchers have now shown how the TET1 enzyme controls the activity of our genes.

To ensure normal fetal development and prevent disease, it is crucial that certain genes are on or off in the right time intervals. Researchers in Professor Kristian Helin's group at BRIC, University of Copenhagen, have now shown how the TET1 enzyme controls the activity of our genes.

Related Articles


The results are published in the journal Nature.

Control of our genes

The complete human genetic code was mapped in 2000. However, it has become clear that the genetic code itself only in part can answer how an individual develops and is protected against disease. What is detrimental is also how our genes are controlled -- what genes are on or off at certain times. This is in part regulated by specific cellular enzymes that can attach small chemical groups, methyl groups, to our DNA.

"The methyl groups can turn off the gene that lies in a stretch of DNA where it is added. TET1 is another type of enzyme that can fine tune the signals that control gene activity by changing the methyl groups which thereafter are removed," says Kristian Helin.

TET1 controls fetal development

Kristine Williams, Jesper Christensen and Marianne Terndrup Pedersen are the three key persons in the Helin laboratory at BRIC contributing with the new results. "Our most important finding is that TET1 acts like a safe guard and prevents that methyl groups are attached to genes that needs to be active for normal growth and development of our cells. That is crucial for normal fetal development," says PhD student Kristine Williams. Selected genes needs to be active in the stem cells of our body, before the cells are specialized to one of the more than 200 specialized cell types that exist in our body. Other genes need only to be active in specialized cell types as for example liver cells, muscle cells or nerve cells.

When cancer cells develop

The results also contribute to the understanding of what goes wrong when some cells accidently develop into cancer cells. The functions of our body are dependent on constant cellular renewal through division of the cells. A large cellular machinery ensures that our DNA is intact and copied correctly when our cells divide. This is crucial for normal development and function of the cells. In the worst case scenario, changes in the DNA, so called mutations, can result in development of cancer. Specialized genes called tumor suppressor genes are especially important for fighting cancer:

"If methyl groups are deployed to genes that are usually active in normal cells, the genes are turned off and this can be detrimental. If it happens to tumor suppressor genes, it can be a step towards cancer development as the genes no longer can protect against unintended cell growth," says Kristian Helin.

TET enzymes and blood cancers

So TET1 can fight cancers by controlling the activity and protective function of tumor suppressor genes. Our cells also contain a close relative to TET1, the TET2 enzyme, which is the most frequently mutated gene in blood cancers. The researches at BRIC has discovered that TET2 also controls gene activity by facilitating removal of methyl groups from the DNA and they are currently extending these studies to cellular models for cancer development. Results from these studies will supply insight into the mechanisms leading to blood cancers and can potentially lead to development of new therapeutics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristine Williams, Jesper Christensen, Marianne Terndrup Pedersen, Jens V. Johansen, Paul A. C. Cloos, Juri Rappsilber, Kristian Helin. TET1 and hydroxymethylcytosine in transcription and DNA methylation fidelity. Nature, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nature10066

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413151637.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2011, April 13). TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413151637.htm
University of Copenhagen. "TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413151637.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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