Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cancer Biologists Link Tumor Suppressor Gene to Stem Cells

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Bookmark and Share
The findings appear online in the journal eLife.

Just as archeologists try to decipher ancient tablets to discern their meaning, UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer biologists are working to decode the purpose of an ancient gene considered one of the most important in cancer research.

The p53 gene appears to be involved in signaling other cells instrumental in stopping tumor development. But the p53 gene predates cancer, so scientists are uncertain what its original function is.

In trying to unravel the mystery, Dr. John Abrams, Professor of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern, and his team made a crucial new discovery - tying the p53 gene to stem cells. Specifically, his lab found that when cellular damage is present, the gene is hyperactive in stem cells, but not in other cells. The findings suggest p53’s tumor suppression ability may have evolved from its more ancient ability to regulate stem cell growth.

“The discovery was that only the stem cells light up. None of the others do. The exciting implication is that we are able to understand the function of p53 in stem cells,” said Dr. Abrams, Chair of the Genetics and Development program in UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “We may, in fact, have some important answers for how p53 suppresses tumors.”

p53 is one of the hardest working and most effective allies in the fight against cancer, said Dr. Abrams. It regulates other genes, marshaling them to carry out an untold number of preemptive attacks and obliterate many pre-cancerous cells before they ever pose a threat. In nearly every case where there’s a tumor, p53 is damaged or deranged, strongly suggesting that it is a tumor suppressant.

Stem cells are one of the body’s most useful cells because of their regenerative capabilities. Stem cells produce daughter cells, one that is a stem cell and another that can become virtually any kind of cell that’s needed, such as a blood cell or a kidney cell.

Stem cells have received tremendous attention in cancer research because of the stem cell hypothesis. That hypothesis maintains that malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a population of tumor cells that have properties similar to adult stem cells.

“What this new finding tells us is that an ancient functionality of p53 was hard-wired into stem cell function,” said Dr. Abrams, senior author. “From the standpoint of trying to decipher cancer biology, that’s a pretty profound observation.”

To study the gene, researchers in Dr. Abrams lab, including Dr. Annika Wylie, postdoctoral research fellow and first author on the paper, developed a transgenic sensor that makes cells glow when they are active in drosophila, or fruit flies. Other UT Southwestern researchers involved included Dr. Michael Buszczak, Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Contribution Increases by Tenfold The Mouse Mutation Resources of One Type Available
The repository provides academic researchers with unique genetic models that are unavailable commercially.
Thursday, October 06, 2016
Alzheimer’s Linked Protein Can Be Removed From Brain Without Hindering Memory, Learning
Researchers at UTSW have found that the mice can maintain their learning and memory when virtually all ApoE is removed from the brain but kept present in the liver to filter cholesterol.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Scientists Find Lethal Vulnerability in Treatment-Resistant Lung Cancer
The study describes how the drug Selinexor killed lung cancer cells and shrank tumors in mice when used against cancers driven by the aggressive and difficult-to-treat KRAS cancer gene.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Examining mtDNA May Help Identify Unknown Ancestry That Influences Breast Cancer Risk
Researchers studying mtDNA in a group of triple negative breast cancer patients found that 13 percent of participants were unaware of ancestry that could influence their risk of cancer.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Enhancing Antibiotics to Defeat Resistant Bacteria
Scientists enhance ability of antibiotics to defeat resistant types of bacteria using molecules called PPMOs
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Novel MRI Technique Distinguishes Healthy Prostate Tissue from Cancer
The UTSW researchers have determined that glucose stimulates release of the zinc ions from inside epithelial cells, which they could then track on MRIs.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
PARP Proteins Explore Therapeutic Targets in Cancer
Researchers at UTSW have identified a previously unknown role of a certain class of proteins that opens the door to explore therapeutic targets in cancer and other disease.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Innate Immunity Connection to Rare Childhood Disease
Researchers have discovered a gene that's linked to a rare, fatal syndrome in children has an important innate immunity role.
Thursday, August 04, 2016
UT Southwestern Targets Rising Rates of Kidney Cancer
Company has received $11 million in funding to the rising threat of kidney cancer.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer.
Friday, July 22, 2016
New Method Detects Telomere Length for Research into Cancer, Aging
UT Southwestern Medical Center cell biologists have identified a new method for determining the length of telomeres, the endcaps of chromosomes, which can influence cancer progression and aging.
Friday, July 01, 2016
Enzyme Link Between Excessive Heart Muscle Growth, Cancer Growth
Researchers at UTSW have found that the drugs currently used to inhibit these enzymes in cancer may also be effective in treating enlargement of the heart muscle.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Treatment of Common Prostate Cancer
Researchers at UTSW have found that the prostate cancer treatments suppress immune response and may promote relapse.
Friday, April 08, 2016
A Metabolic Twist that Drives Cancer Survival
A novel metabolic pathway that helps cancer cells thrive in conditions that are lethal to normal cells has been identified.
Friday, April 08, 2016
Novel Metabolic Twist that Drives Cancer Survival
Researchers at CRI at UT Southwestern have identified a novel metabolic pathway that helps cancer cells thrive in conditions that are lethal to normal cells.
Thursday, April 07, 2016
Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Agilent Presents Early Career Professor Award to Dr. Roeland Verhaak
JAX professor recognized for the development and implementation of workflows for the analysis of big-data from transcriptomics to next generation sequencing approaches.
Ovarian Cancer Insight
Study showed tumours release cytokines to attract macrophages, which secrete growth factors that in turn promote tumour growth.
Bacterial Genes Boost Current in Human Cells
Borrowing and tweaking bacterial genes to enhance electrical activity might treat heart, nervous system injury.
Less Frequent Cervical Cancer Screening
HPV-vaccinated women may only need one screening every 5 to 10 years with screening starting later in life.
Questioning the Safety of Selenium to Combat Cancer
Research indicates the need for change in practice as selenium supplements cannot be recommended for preventing colorectal cancer.
Supercomputers Could Improve Cancer Diagnostics
Researchers push the boundaries of cancer research through high-performance computing to map the human immunone.
Transgenomic, Precipio Diagnostics Merger
Merger will creates a robust diagnostic platform focused on improving accuracy of cancer diagnoses.
Leukaemia Cell Movement Gives Clues to Tackling Treatment-Resistant Disease
Researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that the act of moving itself may help the cells to survive, possibly through short-lived interactions with an array of our own cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos