Researchers describe new functions of cohesin relevant for human disease

May 3, 2012, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre

Cohesin is a ring-shaped protein complex involved in the spatial organization of the genome and in mitotic chromosome structure. Vertebrate somatic cells have two versions of cohesin that contain either SA1 or SA2, but their functional specificity has been largely ignored. Researchers of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) under the direction of Ana Losada have identified new functions of cohesin SA1 that are relevant for two human diseases, cancer and Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS). These results are published in two papers that appear this week back-to-back in EMBO Journal.

The first study shows that SA1 is required for efficient duplication of chromosome ends, the telomeres. In its absence, aberrant telomere structures hinder during cell division and aneuploid cells (i.e., with an incorrect number of chromosomes) are generated. This likely contributes to accelerate the onset of tumourigenesis in SA1 deficient mice. The appearance of certain types of pancreatic tumours, extremely rare in mice, is particularly striking. This mouse model may turn out to be a very useful tool for the study of pancreatic cancer.

The second study reports for the first time a precise map of the distribution of cohesin SA1 and cohesin SA2 along the mouse genome. Moreover, it uncovers an essential role of cohesin SA1 in the regulation of gene expression during . Lack of cohesin SA1 alters the transcription of genes involved in biological processes related to CdLS. This developmental disorder affects 1:30,000 newborns and is characterized by growth and mental retardation and multiple organ abnormalities. The study offers new clues to understand the origin of the pathologies observed in CdLS patients.

"This work represents an important step towards better understating the role of cohesin in such relevant human diseases as cancer and CdLS", comment Silvia Remeseiro and Ana Cuadrado, co-authors of the two papers.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant

January 23, 2018
A study headed by ICREA researcher Roger Gomis at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has identified the genes involved in the latent asymptomatic state of breast cancer metastases. The work sheds light ...

Scientists block the siren call of two aggressive cancers

January 23, 2018
Aggressive cancers like glioblastoma and metastatic breast cancer have in common a siren call that beckons the bone marrow to send along whatever the tumors need to survive and thrive.

Boosting cancer therapy with cross-dressed immune cells

January 22, 2018
Researchers at EPFL have created artificial molecules that can help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer tumors. The study is published in Nature Methods.

Workouts may boost life span after breast cancer

January 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Longer survival after breast cancer may be as simple as staying fit, new research shows.

Cancer patients who tell their life story find more peace, less depression

January 22, 2018
Fifteen years ago, University of Wisconsin–Madison researcher Meg Wise began interviewing cancer patients nearing the end of life about how they were living with their diagnosis. She was surprised to find that many asked ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.