Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First recurrent gene fusion identified in ovarian cancer

Date:
September 20, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Researchers studying ovarian cancer have discovered that, in a substantial fraction of ovarian tumors, a gene closely related to the estrogen receptor is broken and fused to an adjacent gene by a chromosome rearrangement -- a finding that could shed light on how these deadly tumors develop and spread. Identifying a gene fusion in ovarian cancer may provide scientists with a new opportunity to identify ovarian cancers early in their development and perhaps develop new treatments.

Researchers studying ovarian cancer have discovered that, in a substantial fraction of ovarian tumors, a gene closely related to the estrogen receptor is broken and fused to an adjacent gene by a chromosome rearrangement; a finding that could shed light on how these deadly tumors develop and spread. Identifying a gene fusion in ovarian cancer may provide scientists with a new opportunity to specifically identify ovarian cancers early in their development and perhaps to develop new treatments.

The gene fusion was found by searching through a vast pile of data from "deep sequencing" of the genes active in ovarian tumors. "Although this is the first time that a rearrangement of neighboring genes has been found to occur repeatedly in a cancer, we suspect that these local rearrangements may be more common and important that we had realized" said Patrick O. Brown, senior author of the study and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. The study, which appears in the September 20 issue of the online, open access journal PLoS Biology, was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Canary Foundation -- a non-profit dedicated to developing technology for early detection of potentially deadly cancers.

Serous ovarian cancer, the most common form of ovarian cancer, is a particularly lethal cancer because it is usually only detected at a late stage in its progression, after the cancer has spread to other tissues. The Stanford team of Julia Salzman, Robert J. Marinelli, Peter Wang and Brown identified a recurrent gene fusion between ESRRA, a gene related to the estrogen receptor, and a nearby gene called C11orf20, in about 15% of serous ovarian cancer cases tested. This very specific genetic change might provide a marker for detection of some cancers at a curable stage. The fact that ovarian tumors in many patients share the same genetic change suggests it may be important for the way they behave. "More study will reveal if this gene fusion contributes to the tumor's aggressive growth and spread" said Brown.

The research leading to the discovery was performed at Stanford University School of Medicine and combined a relatively new technology -- "deep sequencing" -- with tools from genetics, computer science and statistics. The researchers were specifically looking for evidence that the tumor had rearranged its DNA so that two distinct genes were now fused together in the tumor. Julia Salzman explained, "Many groups have hoped to find recurrent gene fusions in different cancers using deep sequencing, but it has been proved more difficult than expected. Doing the experiment to obtain the data is just the beginning -- analyzing the data poses significant challenges. We spent months designing computer and statistical algorithms to sort out signal from noise." Then, the challenge was to establish whether the finding was more than a fluke. Collaborators in the Canary network at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the British Columbia Cancer Research Agency in Victoria, BC independently confirmed the presence of the gene fusion in multiple ovarian cancers.

Finding that ESRRA and C11orf20 are fused together may give insight into what happens as ovarian cancers develop, and gives researchers a target to study. It also serves as a proof of principle that deep sequencing of the genes expressed in cancer can uncover recurrent gene fusions. By using similar methods, future studies are in process that will test whether additional important genes can be found in ovarian tumors. The work also has broader potential: millions of dollars have been spent by the NIH, universities and other organizations on deep sequencing of tumors. Because much of the resulting data is public, essentially anyone can apply new methods to analyze it. Brown said that the work is continuing: "We are testing our algorithms on publicly available data and hope it might lead to more discoveries."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Julia Salzman, Robert J. Marinelli, Peter L. Wang, Ann E. Green, Julie S. Nielsen, Brad H. Nelson, Charles W. Drescher, Patrick O. Brown. ESRRA-C11orf20 Is a Recurrent Gene Fusion in Serous Ovarian Carcinoma. PLoS Biology, 2011; 9 (9): e1001156 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001156

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "First recurrent gene fusion identified in ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920173343.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, September 20). First recurrent gene fusion identified in ovarian cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920173343.htm
Public Library of Science. "First recurrent gene fusion identified in ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920173343.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. 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:

More Coverage


Discovery of Gene Fusion in Ovarian Cancer Could Lead to Earlier Diagnoses

Sep. 20, 2011 About 15 percent of cases of an aggressive, difficult-to-detect form of ovarian cancer contain a unique fusion between two neighboring, normally separate genes, say researchers. Although gene fusions ... read more
from the past week

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