Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Study of 'Sister' Stem Cells Uncovers New Cancer Clue

Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have used a brand new technique for examining individual stem cells to uncover dramatic differences in the gene expression levels between apparently identical ‘sister’ pairs.

The research, published in Stem Cell Reports, was conducted and funded by The Institute of Cancer Research, London. It provides the latest evidence that despite having identical DNA, sister stem cells can display considerable differences in their molecular characteristics.

The study showed that DNA methylation, a process that controls which genes are expressed in cells, plays an important role in generating non-genetic (or ‘epigenetic’) differences between sister cells.

DNA methylation could therefore be one of the reasons for the major molecular variation between different cancer cells in the same tumour – and drugs to reduce methylation might help control variation and make cancers easier to treat.

In the new research, scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) developed a novel micro-dissection technique to separate pairs of sister embryonic stem cells for single cell RNA analysis.

Using their new high-tech method, researchers separated and isolated mouse stem cells from their sister pairs and measured the behaviour of key genes known to be expressed in those cells.  By comparing which of these genes were up – or down – regulated, they determined the levels of similarity between sister cells at the molecular level for the first time.

They found that under normal conditions, pairs of sister stem cells displayed considerable differences to each other, showing nearly as much diversity as two cells from different sister pairs.

The researchers then looked at cells grown in the presence of a chemical cocktail called 2i, which reverts cells back to their most primitive stem cell state where they can make identical copies of themselves. They found that the cells had reduced levels of two enzymes critical for DNA methylation and they produced more similar sister cells.

The results suggest that DNA methylation is a major cause of the diversity between sister cells when they divide.

Dr Tomoyuki Sawado, leader of the Stem Cells and Chromatin Team at The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Embryonic stem cell division is generally believed to be a symmetrical process, but what we found was that sister cells are actually often quite different from one another.

“We used a new technique to separate paired stem cells combined with assays that measure RNA in individual cells. Our research showed that sister stem cells display considerable differences in which genes are expressed. These differences are advantageous for normal stem cells in their constantly changing environment, and in cancer cells, the same characteristics can enable them to evade treatments. If we can control a process like DNA methylation that creates diversity in cell populations, we could create more efficient treatments for cancer.”
 
Professor Mel Greaves, Professor of Cell Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “How stem cells regulate expression of their genes is crucial to many fundamental biological processes, such as embryonic development, regeneration and turnover of blood, skin and other tissues in the body, but especially to cancer.

“One of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment is overcoming drug resistance. Research from the ICR has revealed that the cells of individual tumours are remarkably diverse and this new research highlights one way this might be achieved. The inherent variability of cancer cell populations provides them with the flexibility to adapt and survive even when confronted with innovative new drugs. If we could harness these new insights to restrict the diversity of cancer cells it would substantially increase the prospects for effective control or eradication of cancer.”


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 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,700+ 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 TechnologyNetworks.com 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

‘Ecologically Diverse’ Breast Cancers More Likely to be Deadly
Breast cancers which are particularly complex and diverse, as judged by a test used in ecology to analyse species of animals and plants, are particularly likely to progress and lead to death, a new study shows.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Detecting Aggressive and Treatment-Resistant Cancers
Scientists have developed a new imaging test that could enable doctors to identify more dangerous tumours before they spread around the body – and tailor treatment accordingly.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Blood Test Picks Out Prostate Cancer Drug Resistance
Scientists have developed a blood test that can identify key mutations driving resistance to a widely used prostate cancer drug, and identify in advance patients who will not respond to treatment.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Scientific News
Portable Test Rapidly Detects Zika
To better diagnose and track the disease, scientists are now reporting a new $2 test that in the lab can accurately detect low levels of the virus in saliva.
Erasing Unpleasant Memories with a Genetic Switch
Researchers from KU Leuven and the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology have managed to erase unpleasant memories in mice using a 'genetic switch'.
New Cancer Drug Target in Dual-Function Protein
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a protein that launches cancer growth and appears to contribute to higher mortality in breast cancer patients.
Contagious Cancers Are Spreading in Shellfish
Direct transmission of cancer among some marine animals may be more common than once thought, suggests a new study published in Nature by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).
Contagious Cancers Are Spreading in Shellfish
Direct transmission of cancer among some marine animals may be more common than once thought, suggests a new study published in Nature by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).
Fix for 3-Billion-Year-Old Genetic Error
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a fix that allows RNA to accurately proofread for the first time.
“Amazing Protein Diversity” Discovered in Maize
The genome of the corn plant – or maize, as it’s called almost everywhere except the US – “is a lot more exciting” than scientists have previously believed. So says the lead scientist in a new effort to analyze and annotate the depth of the plant’s genetic resources.
Higher Frequency of Huntington's Disease Mutations Discovered
University of Aberdeen study shows that the gene change that causes Huntington's disease is much more common than previously thought.
Revealing the Genetic Causes of Bowel Cancer
A landmark study has given the most detailed picture yet of the genetics of bowel cancer — the UK's fourth most common cancer.
Tumor Cells Develop Predictable Characteristics
Scientists have discovered that cancer cells at the edge of a tumor that are close to the surrounding environment are predictably different from the cells within the interior of the tumor.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!