Navigation Links
UNC research uncovers new insight into cell development and cancer

CHAPEL HILL - Long-standing research efforts have been focused on understanding how stem cells, cells capable of transforming into any type of cell in the body, are capable of being programmed down a defined path to contribute to the development of a specific organ like a heart, lung, or kidney. Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine has shed new light on how epigenetic signals may function together to determine the ultimate fate of a stem cell.

The study, published December 27, 2012 by the journal Molecular Cell, implicates a unique class of proteins called polycomb-like proteins, or PCL's, as bridging molecules between the "on" and "off" state of a gene. While all of these specialized types of cells share the same genetic information encoded in our DNA, it is becoming increasingly clear that information outside the genome, referred to as epigenetics, plays a central role in orchestrating the reprogramming of a stem cell down a defined path.

Although it is understood that epigenetics is responsible for turning genes "on" and "off" at defined times during cellular development, the precise mechanisms controlling this delicate process are less well understood.

"This finding has important implications for both stem cell biology and cancer development, as the same regulatory circuits controlled by PCL's in stem cells are often misregulated in tumors," said Dr. Greg Wang, senior author of the study and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, led by postdoctoral research fellows Drs. Ling Cai and Rui Lu in the Wang lab, and Dr. Scott Rothbart, a Lineberger postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Brian Strahl, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, identified that PCL's interact with an epigenetic signal associated with genes that are turned on to recruit a group of proteins called the PRC2 complex which then turn genes off.

"In stem cells, the PRC2 complex turns genes off that would otherwise promote reprogramming into specialized cells of organs like the heart or lungs," said Wang.

In addition to its fundamental role in cellular development, elevated levels of PRC2 have been found in cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, and blood, and pharmaceutical companies are already developing drugs to target PRC2. Wang and colleagues determined that the same mechanisms controlling PRC2 function in stem cells also applies in human cancers.

"The identification of a specific PCL in controlling PRC2 in cancer cells suggests we may be able to develop drugs targeting this PCL to regulate PRC2 function in a more controlled manner that may maintain PRC2 function in stem cells while inhibiting it in the tumor," said Wang.


Contact: William Davis
919-966-5906 x254
University of North Carolina Health Care

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. Research reveals first evidence of hunting by prehistoric Ohioans
3. Diabetes Research Institute develops oxygen-generating biomaterial
4. APS issues new policy requiring identification of sex or gender in reporting scientific research
5. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
6. Study jointly led by UCSB researcher supports theory of extraterrestrial impact
7. U of Alberta researcher steps closer to understand autoimmune diseases
8. Research on flavanols and procyanidins provides new insights into how these phytonutrients may positively impact human health
9. A project to research biological and chemical aspects of microalgae to fuel approach
10. Scripps Research discoveries lead to newly approved drug for infant respiratory distress syndrome
11. Researchers attempt to solve problems of antibiotic resistance and bee deaths in one
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
UNC research uncovers new insight into cell development and cancer
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 2016-2020" report to their offering. ... America to grow at a CAGR of 12.28% during ... based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016  The American College of ... Trade Show Executive Magazine as one of the fastest-growing ... May 25-27 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas ... the highest percentage of growth in each of the following ... exhibiting companies and number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... ANGELES , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... identity management and verification solutions, has partnered ... edge software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service ... provides products that add functional enhancements ... partnership provides corporations and venues with an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... -- Alex,s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a leading national childhood ... state-of-the-art bioinformatics lab, using ,big data, to advance the ... Liz Scott , co-executive director of ALSF and ... Washington, D.C. , hosted by Vice ... of pediatric cancer research and awareness. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes ... through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes ... cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other ... and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the ... increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in developing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" ... by its major shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, LP ... States based venture capital funds which together ... (on a fully diluted, as converted basis), that they ... their entire equity holdings in Biorem to TUS Holdings ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... enabling healthier lives through the development of innovative products ... the United States denied its ... the claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 ... criteria established by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services ...
Breaking Biology Technology: