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If you think cancer genes are simple, you don't know JAK
Date:9/17/2007

even carry the damaged gene, and that these effects can be passed from one generation to the next even though theyre not actually in the DNA code. The mutations effects on the DNA of one of its parents affect the genes of its offspring. Even though the mutation is in one fly but not in another, both are affected equally, said Li.

To understand the work, it helps to think of large stretches of DNA, sometimes encompassing many genes, as valuable parcels of information that must be handled with precision and great care, not only as they are passed from generation to generation but also during the lifespan of an individual. Such packages contain little flags or markings. Just as a regular package might have the words handle with care stamped on it, our DNA has chemical signals that tell the body things like, Dont turn this set of genes on or Turn these genes on only in case of emergency. No matter whats inside the package no matter the specific DNA code such chemical signals on the outside provide instructions that help the body determine what to do with the DNA.

The instructions frequently come through a mechanism known as DNA methylation, which the body uses often to turn genes off. Normally, such chemical markings are wiped clean and reset very early in an organisms life through a process known as epigenetic reprogramming. But Lis team showed that JAK specifically an activated JAK kinase known as HOP-Tum-l can disrupt that reprogramming, so that the offspring inherit the methylation pattern of a parent. In other words, the specific pattern of genes that are destined to be turned on or off the instructions for what to do with the DNA is mistakenly passed on from parent to offspring.

While scientists have known that epigenetic information can be passed from generation to generation, Li says this is the first time the phenomenon has been linked to a cancer-causing gene.

To do the study, Lis team focused on the interaction betwee
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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