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Key information about breast cancer risk and development is found in 'junk' DNA
Date:12/16/2010

A new genetic biomarker that indicates an increased risk for developing breast cancer can be found in an individual's "junk" (non-coding) DNA, according to a new study featuring work from researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech and their colleagues.

The multidisciplinary team found that longer DNA sequences of a repetitive microsatellite were much more likely to be present in breast cancer patients than healthy volunteers. The particular repeated DNA sequence in the control (promoter) region of the estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERR-γ) gene AAAG contains between five and 21 copies and the team found that patients who have more than 13 copies of this repeat have a cancer susceptibility rate that is three times higher than those who do not. They also discovered that this repeat doesn't change the actual protein being reproduced, but likely changes the amount.

The researchers from VBI's Medical Informatics and Systems Division (https://www.vbi.vt.edu/vbi_faculty/vbi_research_group/personal_research_group_page?groupId=6), the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, report their findings in an upcoming edition of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The study is currently available online. The group sequenced a specific region of the ERR-γ gene in approximately 500 patient and volunteer samples. While the gene has previously been shown to play a role in breast cancer susceptibility, its mechanism was unknown.

"Creating robust biomarkers to detect disease in their early stages requires access to a large number of clinical samples for analysis. The success of this work hinged on collaborations with clinicians with available samples, as well as researchers with expertise in a variety of areas and access to the latest
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Contact: Susan Bland
subland@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-7912
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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