How a quirky fruit fly gene could help researchers develop new cancer drugs
(Medical Xpress) -- Loyola researchers are taking advantage of a quirk in the evolution of fruit fly genes to help develop new weapons against cancer.
A newly discovered fruit fly gene is a simplified counterpart of two complex human genes that play important roles in the development of cancer and some birth defects. As this fruit fly gene evolved, it split in two. This split has made it easier to study, and the resulting insights could prove useful in developing new cancer drugs.
"Evolution has given us a gift," said Andrew K. Dingwall, PhD, senior author of a paper that describes how his team identified and analyzed the split gene. Their findings are published in the June issue of the prestigious journal Development. Based on the importance of the findings, the paper was recently selected as an "Editor's Choice" in Science Signaling, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
When normal cells develop, they differentiate into particular types, such as bone cells or muscle cells, and reproduce in an orderly manner. The process is governed by genes and hormones that work in concert. Two of these genes are known as MLL2 and MLL3. Cancer cells, by contrast, undergo uncontrolled division and reproduction.
Since 2010, a growing number of cancers have been linked to mutations in the MLL2 and MLL3 genes. These cancers include non-Hodgkins lymphoma, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and a brain tumor called medulloblastoma. There also is evidence that MLL2 and MLL3 mutations are involved in breast and prostate cancers.
The MLL2 and MLL3 genes are similar to one another. Each has more than 15,000 building blocks called base pairs -- more than 10 times the number found in a typical gene. Because these genes are so large and complex, they are difficult to study.
In the fruit fly, the counterpart gene to MLL2 and MLL3 split into two genes named TRR and CMI. Each carried information critical for normal gene regulation, and they wound up on different chromosomes. The parsing of the MLL2/MLL3 genetic information into smaller genes in the fruit fly made study of the gene functions much easier; it allowed the researchers unprecedented opportunities to explore the role the human genes play in the development of cancers.
"This fruit fly gene gives us unique insight into the massive human MLL2 and MLL3 genes that are almost impossible to study because they are so large," Dingwall said.
Dingwall's team studied the function of the fruit fly gene by inducing various mutations and then observing the effects on the flies. This will lead to better understanding of what goes wrong when mutations in MLL2 and MLL3 genes trigger the uncontrolled reproduction of cancer cells in humans. This in turn could help researchers develop drugs that would redirect cancer cells to differentiate into normal cells, Dingwall said.
The study was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, with additional support from the National Institutes of Health.
Journal reference: Science Signaling
Provided by Loyola University Health System
- New genetic mutations found for non-Hodgkin lymphoma Jul 28, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- A fly lamin gene is both like and unlike human genes Jun 13, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Connecting cancer genes May 15, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Genome code cracked for most common form of pediatric brain cancer Dec 16, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- 'Drunk' fruit flies could shed light on genetic basis of human alcohol abuse Oct 20, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have led the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.
Genetics May 22, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University's Brain Tumor Program, have developed a new mouse model of malignant peripheral ...
Genetics May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 1 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Artemio Martinez balanced his corpulent frame on a stool in a Mexico City street taco stand, downing a sweet soda and eating a final pork-filled corn tortilla.
13 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
12 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (6) | 0 |
The British Menopause Society and Women's Health Concern have today released updated guidelines on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to provide clarity around the role of HRT, the benefits and the risks. The new guidelines ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose ...
18 hours ago | 4.5 / 5 (10) | 1 |
Teams of highly respected Alzheimer's researchers failed to replicate what appeared to be breakthrough results for the treatment of this brain disease when they were published last year in the journal Science.
16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 2 |
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as ...
16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |