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New class of RNA molecules may be important in human cancer
Date:9/11/2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio Research here shows that an obscure form of RNA, part of the protein-making machinery in all cells, might play an important role in human cancer.

These ultraconserved non-coding RNAs (UCRs) have been considered junk by some researchers, but a new report in the September issue of the journal Cancer Cell indicates that this may not be the case.

The study found that UCRs, like classic oncogenes, can contribute to cancer development. It also showed that the type and amount of UCRs is different in cancer cells for each of three cancer types, suggesting that these molecules might prove useful in diagnosing the disease and in determining a patients prognosis and perhaps even treatment.

Along with oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes and microRNA, this seems to be another family of genes that plays an important role in cancer, says principal investigator Carlo M. Croce, professor and chair of the department of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University and a researcher with Ohio States Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Our next step is to learn how they work and if they are good targets for drug therapy.

The new study involved a number of experiments. One showed that some genes that encode for UCRs are located in chromosome regions that are often lost or damaged in cancer cells. This suggests that certain UCRs might be genetic markers for cancer susceptibility.

In another experiment, Croce and his colleagues measured the activity of UCR genes in human chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and colorectal and liver cancer. Overall, they examined 133 tumor samples and 40 samples of corresponding normal tissue.

Each cancer type showed a specific activity pattern for certain UCRs, suggesting that these molecules might one day help distinguish between different types of human cancers.

Moreover, the investigators identified a signature of five UCRs able to differentiat
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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