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The TET1 enzyme steers us through fetal development and fights cancer
Date:4/13/2011

ls accidently develop into cancer cells. The functions of our body are dependent on constant cellular renewal through division of the cells. A large cellular machinery ensures that our DNA is intact and copied correctly when our cells divide. This is crucial for normal development and function of the cells. In the worst case scenario, changes in the DNA, so called mutations, can result in development of cancer. Specialized genes called tumor suppressor genes are especially important for fighting cancer:

- If methyl groups are deployed to genes that are usually active in normal cells, the genes are turned off and this can be detrimental. If it happens to tumor suppressor genes, it can be a step towards cancer development as the genes no longer can protect against unintended cell growth, says Kristian Helin.

TET enzymes and blood cancers

So TET1 can fight cancers by controlling the activity and protective function of tumor suppressor genes. Our cells also contain a close relative to TET1, the TET2 enzyme, which is the most frequently mutated gene in blood cancers. The researches at BRIC has discovered that TET2 also controls gene activity by facilitating removal of methyl groups from the DNA and they are currently extending these studies to cellular models for cancer development. Results from these studies will supply insight into the mechanisms leading to blood cancers and can potentially lead to development of new therapeutics.


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Contact: Kristian Helin
kristian.helin@bric.ku.dk
453-532-5668
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert  

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