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Study identifies new therapeutic target in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Date:
October 3, 2016
Source:
The Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that an enzyme called uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) protects the ends of B cell chromosomes to facilitate the proliferation of these antibody-producing cells in response to infection. The study also suggests that targeting this enzyme may help treat certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
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Wild-type B cells (left) contain telomeres (green) at the ends of their chromosomes (blue). But some of these telomeres are lost (arrowheads) in the absence of UNG (right).
Credit: Cortizas et al., 2016

Researchers have discovered that an enzyme called uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) protects the ends of B cell chromosomes to facilitate the proliferation of these antibody-producing cells in response to infection. The study "UNG protects B cells from AID-induced telomere loss," which will be published online October 3 ahead of issue in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, also suggests that targeting this enzyme may help treat certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

When a B cell first encounters a foreign antigen, it starts to proliferate and produce a DNA-modifying enzyme called activation-induced deaminase (AID). This enzyme creates mutations in the cell's immunoglobulin genes so that the cell's progeny produce a diverse array of antibodies that can bind the antigen with high affinity and mediate various immune responses.

But AID can create mutations elsewhere in the B cell's genome, and, if these mutations are not mended by UNG or other DNA repair proteins, this can lead to cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The new study by a team of researchers led by Ramiro Verdun of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Javier Di Noia of Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montréal investigates whether AID targets the telomeres of mouse B cells. They chose this direction because telomeres -- structures that protect the ends of chromosomes to facilitate cell proliferation -- contain similar DNA sequences to immunoglobulin genes.

The researchers found that in the absence of UNG, AID created mutations in B cell telomeres that caused them to rapidly shorten, limiting the proliferation of activated B cells. UNG helped to repair these mutations, preventing telomere loss and facilitating B cell expansion.

UNG's ability to protect telomeres therefore helps B cells to continue proliferating while they mutate their immunoglobulin genes, allowing them to mount an effective immune response. But the enzyme's activity may also help non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells, which often overexpress AID, to continue proliferating. The researchers found that inhibiting UNG blocked the growth of human diffuse large B cell lymphoma cells expressing AID.

"So UNG can contribute to lymphomagenesis by protecting telomeres from AID-induced damage," says Verdun. "We show that cancerous human B cells expressing AID require UNG for proliferation, suggesting that targeting UNG may be a means to delay the growth of AID-positive cancers."


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Materials provided by The Rockefeller University Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elena M. Cortizas, Astrid Zahn, Shiva Safavi, Joseph A. Reed, Francisco Vega, Javier M. Di Noia, Ramiro E. Verdun. UNG protects B cells from AID-induced telomere loss. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2016; jem.20160635 DOI: 10.1084/jem.20160635

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The Rockefeller University Press. "Study identifies new therapeutic target in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161003093236.htm>.
The Rockefeller University Press. (2016, October 3). Study identifies new therapeutic target in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 21, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161003093236.htm
The Rockefeller University Press. "Study identifies new therapeutic target in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161003093236.htm (accessed May 21, 2017).

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