Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Judging DNA by its cover: Explaining the link between stem cells and cancer

Date:
July 23, 2012
Source:
Weizmann Institute of Science
Summary:
A newly-discovered molecular mechanism might explain the link between stem cells and cancer.

Stem cells hold great promise for the medicine of the future, but they can also be a cause of disease. When these self-renewing, unspecialized cells fail to differentiate into diverse cell types, they can start dividing uncontrollably, leading to cancer. Already several decades ago, Weizmann Institute scientists were among the first to demonstrate the link between cancer and the faulty differentiation of stem cells. Now a new Weizmann Institute-led study, published in Molecular Cell, reveals a potential molecular mechanism behind this link.

The scientists managed to uncover the details of a step in the process of DNA "repackaging" that takes place during embryonic stem cell differentiation. It turns out that for the cells to differentiate properly, certain pieces of the packaging of their DNA must be labeled by a molecular tag called ubiquitin. Such tagging is required for turning on a group of particularly long genes, which enable the stem cell to differentiate. The researchers identified two switches: An enzyme called RNF20 enhances the tagging, whereas a second enzyme, USP44, does the opposite, shutting it down. Furthermore, it appears that both these switches must operate properly for the differentiation process to proceed efficiently. When the scientists interfered with the tagging -- either by disabling the "ON" switch RNF20, or by deregulating the activity of the "OFF" switch USP44 -- the stem cells failed to differentiate.

These experiments might explain the significance of molecular defects identified in a number of cancers, for example, the abnormally low levels of RNF20 in certain breast and prostate cancers and the excess of USP44 in certain leukemias. Notably, faulty differentiation of stem cells is often a hallmark of the more aggressive forms of cancer. This research was led by Prof. Moshe Oren of the Molecular Cell Biology Department, with Prof. Eytan Domany of the Physics of Complex Systems Department and Dr. Jacob Hanna of the Molecular Genetics Department. The team included Weizmann Institute's Gilad Fuchs, Efrat Shema, Rita Vesterman, Eran Kotler, Sylvia Wilder, Lior Golomb, Ariel Pribluda and Ester Feldmesser, as well as Zohar Wolchinsky of the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology; Feng Zhang and Xiaochun Yu of the University of Michigan in the US; Mahmood Haj-Yahya and Ashraf Brik of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Daniel Aberdam of the Technion and the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis in France.

This study belongs to a relatively new direction in cancer research: Rather than focusing on the genes involved, it highlights the role of epigenetics -- that is, processes that do not modify the gene code, itself, but affect the way its information is interpreted within the cell. Understanding the epigenetic roots of cancer will advance the search for effective therapies for this disease.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gilad Fuchs, Efrat Shema, Rita Vesterman, Eran Kotler, Zohar Wolchinsky, Sylvia Wilder, Lior Golomb, Ariel Pribluda, Feng Zhang, Mahmood Haj-Yahya, Ester Feldmesser, Ashraf Brik, Xiaochun Yu, Jacob Hanna, Daniel Aberdam, Eytan Domany, Moshe Oren. RNF20 and USP44 Regulate Stem Cell Differentiation by Modulating H2B Monoubiquitylation. Molecular Cell, 2012; 46 (5): 662 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.05.023

Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute of Science. "Judging DNA by its cover: Explaining the link between stem cells and cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723105422.htm>.
Weizmann Institute of Science. (2012, July 23). Judging DNA by its cover: Explaining the link between stem cells and cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723105422.htm
Weizmann Institute of Science. "Judging DNA by its cover: Explaining the link between stem cells and cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723105422.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
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