Dietary anti-cancer compound may work by influence on cellular genetics

March 16, 2017
Research has discovered one of the underlying reasons why broccoli is so good for you, in work leading to a new way to approach the genetic basis of cancer. Credit: Oregon State University

Researchers have discovered one of the reasons why broccoli may be good for your health.

They found that sulforaphane, a dietary compound from broccoli that's known to help prevent , may work through its influence on long, non-coding RNAs. This is another step forward in a compelling new area of study on the underlying genetics of and progression.

The findings were published by researchers from Oregon State University in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The research provides more evidence for how these lncRNAs, which were once thought to be a type of "junk DNA" of no particular value or function, may instead play a critical role in triggering cells to become malignant and spread.

Growing evidence shows that lncRNAs, which number in the thousands, have a major role in cell biology and development, often by controlling what genes are turned on, or "expressed" to carry out their genetic function. Scientists now believe that when these lncRNAs are dysregulated they can contribute to multiple disease processes, including cancer.

The lncRNAs are also of special interest, researchers say, because they are so highly cell- and tissue-specific.

Unlike many chemotherapeutic drugs that affect healthy cells as well as malignant ones and can cause undesired side effects, the control of lncRNAs may offer a new way to specifically prevent or slow the progression of malignant cells.

"This could be a turning point in our understanding of how cancer may be triggered and spreads," said Emily Ho, the endowed director of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health at OSU, a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute.

"It's obviously of interest that this dietary compound, found at some of its highest levels in broccoli, can affect lncRNAs. This could open the door to a whole range of new dietary strategies, foods or drugs that might play a role in cancer suppression or therapeutic control."

In particular, this research showed that one lncRNA, called LINC01116, is upregulated in a human cell line of prostate cancer, but can be decreased by treatment with sulforaphane. The data "reinforce the idea that lncRNAs are an exciting new avenue for chemoprevention research, and chemicals derived from diet can alter their expression," the scientists wrote in their study.

"We showed that treatment with sulforaphane could normalize the levels of this lncRNA," said Laura Beaver, a research associate in the Linus Pauling Institute and College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and lead author on the study. "This may relate to more than just cancer prevention. It would be of significant value if we could develop methods to greatly slow the progress of cancer, help keep it from becoming invasive."

The impact of diet on lncRNA expression has been largely unknown until now, the researchers said. In this study, they identified a four-fold decrease in the ability of to form colonies when LINC01116 was disrupted.

Among men, prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer globally, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Worth noting, the researchers said, is that an increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, which are high in sulforaphane, appears to be associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

That same lncRNA, they noted, is also overexpressed in studies of several other types of cancer, including brain, lung and colon cancer. Some other lncRNAs have been found at higher levels in breast, stomach, lung, prostate cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In other research, a knockout of the gene that encodes one type of lncRNA in mice conferred some resistance to obesity caused by a high-fat diet.

"Taken together, this literature and our own study begin to paint a picture of the important and previously unappreciated role of lncRNAs in the body's response to diet," the researchers wrote in the study. "These discoveries illustrate that lncRNAs can play important roles in cancer development and may be useful targets for , detection and treatment."

Explore further: Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy

More information: Laura M. Beaver et al, Long noncoding RNAs and sulforaphane: a target for chemoprevention and suppression of prostate cancer, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.01.001

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4 comments

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FredJose
1 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2017
In recent years, researchers have recognized that non-coding regions of the genome—long dismissed as "junk DNA"—are actually key players in cell biology, development, and disease. However, the vast majority of these regions have not yet been extensively studied


The "junk DNA" idea of course directly arose from evolutionary assumptions instead of actually doing the hard scientific investigations first.

Now that the ENCODE project has highlighted just what a crock of a philosophical nonsense that was, real science can once again make progress.

So thanks to the freedom from that evolutionary junk, long non-coding RNA strands can be fully investigated. The results speak for themselves: being imprisoned by evolutionary non-science is like a straight jacket on the scientific creative mind.
PPihkala
not rated yet Mar 17, 2017
I also agree that that the idea of junk DNA was junk. Just stupid idea that has been limiting research on what incRNA really does, like this study highlights.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2017
It's more than just a mistake. There's a rich history for why epigenetics was thought to be junk, and it's seemingly still not taught ...

The Rejection of Epigenetics
https://plus.goog...eZRc6xyp

As an aside, note that this anti-cancer substance in broccoli is yet another natural anti-fungal. I've been tracking this unusual controversy that many of the more serious forms of cancer might actually trace to a fungus -- the world's most aggressive pathogen. The arguments are compelling once fully laid out ...

Cancer as a Fungus
https://plus.goog...5cMZTXJK
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Mar 20, 2017
The Rejection of Epigenetics
https://plus.goog...eZRc6xyp

Cancer as a Fungus
https://plus.goog...5cMZTXJK
PSEUDOSCIENCE LINKS

if you can't provide source material to validate your claims then stop posting

your argument has been repeatedly debunked on PO alone, but here is one study that directly contradicts your claims (note: this is source material, or actual science - not a pseudoscience link or opinion)
http://dx.doi.org...7-9878-2
http://link.sprin...7-9878-2

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