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Stress triggers tumor formation, Yale researchers find
Date:1/13/2010

This release is available in Chinese.

Stress induces signals that cause cells to develop into tumors, Yale researchers have discovered. The research, published online Jan. 13 in the journal Nature, describes a novel way cancer takes hold in the body and suggests new ways to attack the deadly disease.

Until now, most researchers believed that more than one cancer-causing mutation needed to take place in a single cell in order for tumors to grow. The Yale team, led by Tian Xu, professor and vice chairman of genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, illustrated that cancer-causing mutations can cooperate to promote tumor development even when they are located in different cells within a tissue.

"The bad news is that it is much easier for a tissue to accumulate mutations in different cells than in the same cell," said Tian, who also is a researcher with the Yale Cancer Center and the Fudan-Yale Center for Biomedical Research at Fudan University in China.

The Yale team worked with fruit flies to study the activity of two genes known to be involved in development of human cancers: a gene called RAS that has been implicated in 30 percent of cancers, and a tumor-suppressing gene called scribble, which contributes to tumor development when mutated. Neither a mutated RAS nor the defective scribble alone can cause cancer. Researchers in the Xu lab previously showed that a combination of the two within the same cell could trigger malignant tumors.

However, the Yale team found that these mutations did not have to co-exist in the same cell to cause tumors. A cell with only mutant RAS can develop into a malignant tumor if helped by a nearby cell with defective scribble. They also found stress conditions such as a wound could trigger cancer formation. For instance, RAS cells developed into tumors when a wound was induced
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Contact: Bill Hathaway
william.hathaway@yale.edu
203-432-1322
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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