Genetic 'fine tuners' control body's own attack against cancer

May 6, 2013
Genetic 'fine tuners' control body's own attack against cancer

(Medical Xpress)—The body's own immune system's fight against breast cancer is controlled by genetic 'fine tuners', known as microRNAs, according to a study published in Nature today.

Looking at 1,300 samples, Cancer Research UK scientists found that the influence of these microRNAs, which help control how genes behave, varies between different subtypes of breast cancer.

Last year Cancer Research UK scientists published a landmark study, METABRIC, showing that breast cancer can be subdivided into ten distinct genetic subtypes. These new findings relate to the most common form, which is unusual in that the body appears to mount a strong to the disease. This is thought to be the reason why patients with this type of breast cancer tend to have a better outlook than those with other forms.

The researchers were searching for relationships between the individual subtypes of breast cancer and patterns of microRNA activity in the tumours. They found that the types of cancers that trigger the also have a characteristic 'signature' of microRNAs, which seem be playing a role in controlling this response.

MicroRNAs are short fragments of – a molecule related to DNA – that act as tiny switches inside cells, helping to turn genes on or off and controlling .

The team's findings suggest that microRNAs don't act simply as on/off switches, but have a much more nuanced role in fine-tuning a cell's behaviour, including how it interacts with the body's defence mechanisms.

Professor Carlos Caldas, senior study author based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, said: "Since we discovered that breast cancer can be split into ten different diseases we've been looking for the differences that make each type unique. In this particular type of the disease these genetic 'fine tuners' seem to help control the immune system's fight against breast cancer."

Dr Kat Arney, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "MicroRNAs are a hot topic in cancer research right now, but there's still a lot we don't know about these tiny controllers. Understanding more about what they're doing in tumours will increase our knowledge about the biological processes that underpin cancer, and is vital for shaping the development of future treatments based on these little molecules."

Explore further: Combining imaging and gene analysis could transform breast cancer diagnosis

More information: Dvinge, H. et al The shaping and functional consequences of the microRNA landscape in breast cancer Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature12108

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JVK
1 / 5 (1) May 06, 2013
One way to link microRNAs, obesity (nutrient-stress) and social stress to increased incidence of cancer is:
This model of systems biology represents the conservation of bottom-up organization and top-down activation via:
Nutrient stress-induced and social stress-induced intracellular changes in the microRNA (miRNA) / messenger RNA (mRNA) balance; Intermolecular changes in DNA (genes) and alternative splicing; Non-random experience-dependent stochastic variations in de novo gene expression and biosynthesis of odor receptors;
The required gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway that links sensory input directly to gene activation in neurosecretory cells and to miRNA-facilitated learning and memory in the amygdala of the adaptively evolved mammalian brain; The required reciprocity that links gene expression to behavior that alters gene expression (i.e., reciprocity from genes to behavior and back) in model organisms like the honeybee.
http://dx.doi.org...e.155672

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