Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetics of cancer: Non-coding DNA can finally be decoded

Date:
July 23, 2014
Source:
Université de Genève
Summary:
Cancer is a disease of the genome resulting from a combination of genetic modifications, or mutations. We inherit from our parents strong or weak predispositions to developing certain kinds of cancer; in addition, we also accumulate new mutations in our cells throughout our lifetime. Although the genetic origins of cancers have been studied for a long time, researchers were not able to measure the role of non-coding regions of the genome until now.

Cancer is a disease of the genome resulting from a combination of genetic modifications (or mutations).
Credit: © Ivelin Radkov / Fotolia

Cancer is a disease of the genome resulting from a combination of genetic modifications (or mutations). We inherit from our parents strong or weak predispositions to developing certain kinds of cancer; in addition, we also accumulate new mutations in our cells throughout our lifetime. Although the genetic origins of cancers have been studied for a long time, researchers were not able to measure the role of non-coding regions of the genome until now. A team of geneticists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), by studying tissues from patients suffering from colorectal cancer, have succeeded in decoding this unexplored, but crucial, part of our genome. Their results can be found in Nature.

Related Articles


To better understand how cancer develops, scientists strive to identify genetic factors -- whether hereditary or acquired -- that could serve as the catalyst or trigger for tumor progression. Until now, the genetic basis of cancers had only been examined in the coding regions of the genome, which constitutes only 2% of it. However, as recent scientific advances have shown, the other 98% is far from inactive: it includes elements that serve to regulate gene expression, and therefore should play a major role in the development of cancer.

In order to better understand this role, Louis-Jeantet professor Emmanouil Dermitzakis and his team, from the Department of Genetic and Developmental Medicine in UNIGE's Faculty of Medicine, studied colorectal cancer, one of the most common and most deadly cancers. Indeed, each year, one million new cases are detected around the world, and for almost half of these patients, the disease will prove fatal. Using genome sequencing technology, the UNIGE geneticists compared the RNA between healthy tissue and tumor tissue from 103 patients, searching for regulatory elements present in the vast, non-coding portion of the genome that impact the development of colorectal cancer. The goal was to identify the effect, present only in cancerous tissue, of acquired mutations whose activation would have triggered the disease. This approach is totally new: it is the first study of this scale to examine the non-coding genome of cancer patients.

Unknown Mutations

The UNIGE team was able to identify two kinds of non-coding mutations that have an impact on the development of colorectal cancer. They found, on one hand, hereditary regulatory variants that are not active in healthy tissue, but are activated in tumors and seem to contribute to cancer progression. It shows that the genome we inherit not only affects our predisposition towards developing cancer, but also has an influence on its progression. On the other hand, the researchers identified effects of acquired mutations on the regulation of gene expression that affect the genesis and progression of colorectal tumors.

'The elements responsible for the development and progression of cancers located in the non-coding genome are as important as those found in the coding regions of the genome. Therefore, analyzing genetic factors in our whole genome, and not only in the coding regions as it was done before, gives us a much more comprehensive knowledge of the genetics behind colorectal cancer,' explains Halit Ongen, the lead author of this study. 'We applied this completely innovative methodology to colorectal cancer, but it can be applied to understand the genetic basis of all sorts of cancers,' underlines Professor Dermitzakis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Université de Genève. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Halit Ongen, Claus L. Andersen, Jesper B. Bramsen, Bodil Oster, Mads H. Rasmussen, Pedro G. Ferreira, Juan Sandoval, Enrique Vidal, Nicola Whiffin, Alexandra Planchon, Ismael Padioleau, Deborah Bielser, Luciana Romano, Ian Tomlinson, Richard S. Houlston, Manel Esteller, Torben F. Orntoft, Emmanouil T. Dermitzakis. Putative cis-regulatory drivers in colorectal cancer. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13602

Cite This Page:

Université de Genève. "Genetics of cancer: Non-coding DNA can finally be decoded." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723131403.htm>.
Université de Genève. (2014, July 23). Genetics of cancer: Non-coding DNA can finally be decoded. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723131403.htm
Université de Genève. "Genetics of cancer: Non-coding DNA can finally be decoded." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140723131403.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. 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