Lack of 'editing' in brain molecules potential driver of cancer

June 19, 2017
brain
Credit: public domain

Scientists in the U.K. and India have observed a "significant" lack of 'editing' in microRNAs in brain tissue of brain cancer patients.

In a paper published in Scientific Reports, the researchers say the finding is a 'small but important' step in our understanding of progression, and raises possibility of using genome engineering techniques to slow or reverse the march of the disease.

MicroRNAs are a special type of RNA molecules that do not code for proteins but participate in crucial regulatory functions. They can introduce targeted variations in organization of their (ribo-nucleotides) – a process known as 'editing'. In turn, editing can enable RNA molecules to expand their functional repertoire, a process which is vital to maintain cell diversity and help our body adapt and evolve dynamically.

Dr Arijit Mukhopadhyay, a researcher in human genetics and genomics in the School of Environment and Life Sciences, and colleagues in Dehli showed that a specific organisation of these building blocks favour such targeted variations to occur, and that certain variations are decreased in patients with brain which can potentially drive the disease.

Dr Mukhopadhyay and the team also examined the normal microRNA editing spectrum in 13 human tissue types and found the healthy brain to have the highest amount of editing – implicating the importance of the observed drop in case of cancers.

"What precisely is happening, we can't say, but with altered levels and positions of these editing events, cellular output can be significantly altered which we see in case of cancers," he says.

And he says the findings pose the question of whether biochemically we can re-establish the 'editing' process using genome engineering techniques like CRISPR targeted to specific cells to revert the biological outcome.

Explore further: Study shows new 'driver' to assess cancer patient survival and drug sensitivity

More information: Deepanjan Paul et al. A-to-I editing in human miRNAs is enriched in seed sequence, influenced by sequence contexts and significantly hypoedited in glioblastoma multiforme, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02397-6

Related Stories

Study shows new 'driver' to assess cancer patient survival and drug sensitivity

October 1, 2015
Cancer specialists have long looked at genetic mutations and DNA copy changes to help predict patient survival and drug sensitivity. A study led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has opened up yet another ...

Novel gene editing approach to cancer treatment shows promise in mice

May 1, 2017
A novel gene therapy using CRISPR genome editing technology effectively targets cancer-causing "fusion genes" and improves survival in mouse models of aggressive liver and prostate cancers, University of Pittsburgh School ...

Actress Kiruna Stamell debates gene editing with ethicist Dr. Christopher Gyngell

April 27, 2017
Two papers published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, debate gene editing and the health of future generations. Stage and screen actress Kiruna Stamell, who has a rare form of dwarfism, proposes that ...

Recommended for you

Genome analysis with near-complete privacy possible, say researchers

August 17, 2017
It is now possible to scour complete human genomes for the presence of disease-associated genes without revealing any genetic information not directly associated with the inquiry, say Stanford University researchers.

Science Says: DNA test results may not change health habits

August 17, 2017
If you learned your DNA made you more susceptible to getting a disease, wouldn't you work to stay healthy?

Genetic variants found to play key role in human immune system

August 16, 2017
It is widely recognized that people respond differently to infections. This can partially be explained by genetics, shows a new study published today in Nature Communications by an international collaboration of researchers ...

Phenotype varies for presumed pathogenic variants in KCNB1

August 16, 2017
(HealthDay)—De novo KCNB1 missense and loss-of-function variants are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, with or without seizures, according to a study published online Aug. 14 in JAMA Neurology.

Active non-coding DNA might help pinpoint genetic risk for psychiatric disorders

August 16, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have demonstrated a new method of analyzing non-coding regions of DNA in neurons, which may help to pinpoint which genetic variants are most important to the development of schizophrenia and ...

Evolved masculine and feminine behaviors can be inherited from social environment

August 15, 2017
The different ways men and women behave, passed down from generation to generation, can be inherited from our social environment - not just from genes, experts have suggested.

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.