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Lack of CHFR gene expression sets stage for breast cancer
Date:6/19/2008

eting the structure used to separate chromosomes. Our work provides further evidence for this correlation and begins to explain how the expression of CHFR alters the cell's response to these kinds of drugs."

Why do some women lack CHFR function or have low function in the first place? Petty says that there's no evidence that women inherit mutations that lead to low or absent CHFR protein.

"It's likely that some other mechanism is shutting down CHFR," she says. "Currently, we are actively looking at ways in which CHFR may be turned off in normal cells, in hopes that we can find a molecular switch to keep it turned on and decrease the risk of cancer development."

Context: The study adds important insights in the continuing search for the roles different genes play in breast cancer. In cell culture studies, Petty's research team previously showed that loss of CHFR was associated with increased tumor size, and that normal breast epithelial cells would develop traits of cancer cells if CHFR was blocked. In the new study, the researchers report what happens inside a dividing cell nucleus when CHFR is missing.

One prime moment in which cancer can begin is when alterations in certain biochemical signals disturb the process by which one cell divides into two. In normal cell division, chromosomes inside the nucleus copy themselves, then line up in the middle of a structure, the mitotic spindle, which forms to aid cell division. The two copies then neatly separate and move to the ends of the spindle, where they become two bundles of identical genetic material. These become the cell's operating instructions for two new daughter cells.

If the spindle doesn't form correctly, genetic material becomes unstable and doesn't divide properly, resulting in cancer-prone cells containing too many chromosomes. The fact that the spindle is affected is important, because some cancer drugs interact with the mitotic spindle as a way to curb cell
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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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