Team finds two pathways through which chromosomes are rearranged

September 8, 2013
Edward (Paul) Hasty, D.V.M., of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and colleagues discovered two pathways for chromosomal rearrangements to occur. This represents a novel target for potential development of anti-cancer therapies. Credit: Lester Rosebrock/The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Biologists reported today in Nature that they have identified two pathways through which chromosomes are rearranged in mammalian cells. These types of changes are associated with some cancers and inherited disorders in people.

"Our finding provides a target to prevent these rearrangements, so we could conceivably prevent cancer in some high-risk people," said senior author Edward P. (Paul) Hasty, D.V.M., of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Partial funding came from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

The two pathways rearrange by recombining DNA repeats that are naturally found in the genome, Dr. Hasty said. DNA, the chemical substance of genes, denatures and replicates during cell division and other processes. Repeats are sequences of DNA that are duplicated.

Both pathways are important for the synthesis of DNA. "Therefore, we propose that chromosomal rearrangements occur as DNA is being synthesized," Dr. Hasty said.

The experiments were conducted with mouse embryonic stem grown in tissue culture. The team measured the incidence of DNA repeats recombining in normal cells. This is called "repeat fusion." The scientists then looked for incidence of repeat fusion in cells affected by several genetic mutations. This analysis identified the two pathways and showed large, complicated rearrangements that involved DNA repeats on multiple chromosomes.

During cell division, DNA is coiled into pairs of threadlike structures called the chromosomes. Each human cell has 22 numbered pairs of chromosomes called autosomes. The sex chromosomes are the 23rd pair in cells and determine a person's gender. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have an X and a Y chromosome.

"We hope the new findings will help us better understand the mechanisms that cause chromosomal instability, which causes some cancers in people," Dr. Hasty said.

At the Health Science Center, Dr. Hasty is a professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine, has a laboratory at the UT Institute of Biotechnology, and is a faculty member of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.

Explore further: Researchers witness new type of cell division, use it to battle cancer

More information: Two Replication Fork Maintenance Pathways Fuse Inverted Repeats to Rearrange Chromosomes, DOI: 10.1038/nature12500

Related Stories

Researchers witness new type of cell division, use it to battle cancer

August 5, 2013
The surprise discovery in humans of a type of human cell division previously seen only in slime molds has put a University of Wisconsin research team on a path to prevent some common and deadly cancers.

Bowel cancers reshuffle their genetic pack to cheat treatment

February 27, 2013
Bowel cancer cells missing one of three genes can rapidly reshuffle their genetic 'pack of cards' – the chromosomes that hold the cell's genetic information. This reshuffling has been previously shown to render tumours ...

Critical pathway in cell cycle may lead to cancer development

July 11, 2013
A team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has identified why disruption of a vital pathway in cell cycle control leads to the proliferation of cancer cells. Their findings on telomeres, the stretches ...

Study in roundworm chromosomes may offer new clues to tumor genome development

April 21, 2011
A study of DNA rearrangements in roundworm chromosomes may offer new insight into large-scale genome duplications that occur in developing tumors.

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

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.