Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zebrafish help decode link between calcium deficiency, colon cancer

Date:
December 13, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
A tiny, transparent fish embryo and a string of surprises led scientists to a deeper understanding of the perplexing link between low calcium and colon cancer.

The image depicts two zebrafish. One has been raised in water containing a normal concentration of calcium and the other has been raised under low calcium conditions. The specific cells that specialize in calcium uptake for the body have been stained. It is apparent that under normal calcium conditions (top panel) there are just a few of these cells present. Under low calcium conditions (bottom panel) the staining has elucidated exponentially more of these cells (many more dark spots present).
Credit: University of Michigan

A tiny, transparent fish embryo and a string of surprises led scientists to a deeper understanding of the perplexing link between low calcium and colon cancer.

Related Articles


By studying zebrafish embryo skin, University of Michigan researchers decoded cell messages underlying abnormal colonic cell growth of the kind that can lead to tumors and colon cancer in calcium deficient individuals. They have also tested this new mechanism in human colon cancer cells.

Ultimately, the new biological mechanism unraveled in zebrafish will help scientists understand the pathways that fuel low calcium-related abnormal colonic cell growth and how to stop that growth, said Cunming Duan, professor in the U-M Department of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology.

To do this, Duan and colleagues used a fluorescent protein to mark a type of epithelial cell, whose job it is to import calcium into the body. The cells behave essentially the same in people and zebrafish, but scientists can study the live cells in zebrafish embryos because they sit on the skin, instead of in the intestine and gut, as with humans.

When the researchers placed the zebrafish embryos in calcium-depleted water, they were surprised that it activated a particular growth factor that stimulates division and growth in these epithelial cells. The calcium transporter (TRPV5/6) must be present for this activation, which is an apparent survival mechanism for animals to import calcium into cells in low-calcium environments.

Animals and people cannot survive without enough calcium, so regulating calcium is critical, Duan said. The link of a calcium transporter to this growth factor signaling pathway is new, and scientists demonstrated the same pathway at work in human colon cancer cells. The discovery also demonstrates the built-in, evolutionarily conserved calcium regulation mechanism that helps humans and animals survive low-calcium conditions.

Understanding the mechanisms behind the calcium-induced abnormal colonic cell growth is the first step in developing drugs or other therapies to prevent it, Duan said.

"Theoretically, it's a possibility you could someday apply this to humans and block human colon cancer cell division," he said.

Duan said several surprising findings and unlikely players converged to push the research along. First, Duan's lab doesn't even study cancer, but rather the growth factor in zebrafish embryo development.

"We found accidentally that these cells divide like crazy when you change the water calcium level," Duan said.

After that, the research swerved in a new direction.

"We then wondered if the growth factor involved had anything to do with colon cancer," he said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Cunming Duan et al. Calcium deficiency-induced and TRP channel-regulated IGF1R-PI3K-Akt signaling regulates abnormal epithelial cell proliferation. Cell Death and Differentiation, December 2013

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Zebrafish help decode link between calcium deficiency, colon cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135421.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, December 13). Zebrafish help decode link between calcium deficiency, colon cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135421.htm
University of Michigan. "Zebrafish help decode link between calcium deficiency, colon cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131213135421.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) As the Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread, the media says parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are part of the cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) 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