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

Salk Researchers Identify Potential Biomarker for Cancer Diagnosis

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Findings of disrupted micronuclei may prove to be a valuable tool for detecting cancer.

Scientists studying cancer development have known about micronuclei for some time. These erratic, small extra nuclei, which contain fragments, or whole chromosomes that were not incorporated into daughter cells after cell division, are associated with specific forms of cancer and are predictive of poorer prognosis.

In a new study, published on July 3, 2013 in Cell, a team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies finds that disrupted micronuclei, which can trigger massive DNA damage on chromosomes, might play an even more active role in carcinogenesis than previously thought. They also found that disrupted micronuclei can be an objective biomarker for the genetic instability common to many solid tumors, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

"Our study shows that more than 60 percent of micronuclei undergo catastrophic dysfunction in solid tumors such as NSCLC," says Martin Hetzer, a professor in Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and holder of the Jesse and Caryl Phillips Foundation Chair. "We identified disrupted micronuclei in two major subtypes of human non-small cell lung cancer, which suggests that they could be a valuable tool for cancer diagnosis."

As a result of a glitch in cell division, whole chromosomes can sometimes end up outside the nucleus. During normal division, a cell duplicates its chromosomes and sends them to two newly formed daughter cells. One set of chromosomes goes to each daughter cell, but, for a variety of reasons, the chromosomes sometimes are not divided evenly, with one cell receiving an extra set and the other cell coming up short. These lagging chromosomes, which acquire their own nuclear membrane and are called micronuclei, often don't make it to the nucleus, ending up elsewhere within the cell and becoming wrapped in their own nuclear envelope. Micronuclei appear at a higher frequency in cancer cells.

In their study, Hetzer and his team found that during a certain phase of cancer cell division previously undetected defects in the nuclear lamina, filaments that provide support and stability to the cell's nucleus, cause the nuclear envelope surrounding micronuclei to catastrophically collapse, leading to the loss of basic nuclear functions such as replication, transcription, and DNA damage recognition and repair. More than 60 percent of micronuclei undergo this irreversible loss of function following nuclear envelope collapse, precipitating cancer-causing aneuploidy, the accumulation of an abnormal number of intact chromosomes within cancer cells.

"In the micronuclei," says Emily Hatch, a research associate in the Hetzer laboratory, "we saw holes developing in the lamina. We think the membrane has no support at the site of these holes, so it weakens and ruptures. We don't fully understand why this happens in micronuclei."

Previous studies have found that the DNA damage and arrest of gene transcription caused by nuclear envelope collapse can promote aneuploidy. This damaged DNA can then enter the next generation of daughter cells and undergo chromothripsis, a rearrangement of genomic information in one chromosome, which leads to massive DNA damage and the formation of tumors.

In the current study, Hatch identified biomarkers to identify disrupted micronuclei, which may greatly increase pathologists' ability to recognize these structures in tumor sections. Currently, few objective markers exist to detect genomic instability in solid tumors, she says, although several cancers rely on the identification of aneuploidy.

"Our ability to identify disrupted micronuclei in solid tumors suggests a new way to evaluate aneuploidy in these tissues," adds Hetzer, who says that it is not clear if all or how many cancers are affected by disrupted micronuclei. In addition to NSCLC, scientists believe that micronuclei disruption may play a role in bone cancer, melanoma and other forms of lung cancer.

Because they are strongly correlated with mitotic errors, micronuclei are regarded as an accurate indicator of genomic stability and aneuploidy, two hallmarks which characterize non-small cell lung cancer. Hetzer's team found disrupted micronuclei in pulmonary adenocarcinomas, the most common form of primary lung cancer and roughly 50 percent of all NSCLCs, and squamous cell carcinomas, which make up about 30 percent of NSCLCs.

Further Information
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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ 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

Not All Organs Age Alike
Study shows first comprehensive view of how proteins age in different organs.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Epigenetic Variations Between Tissues
A Salk Institute-led team has generated a map of the human methylome, gaining insight into patterns of DNA methylation of various tissues.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
New Stem Cell May Overcome Hurdles for Regenerative Medicine
Scientists have discovered a novel type of pluripotent stem cell capable of developing into any type of tissue whose identity is tied to their location in a developing embryo.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Vital Step in Stem Cell Growth Revealed
Salk scientists' finding could aid regenerative and cancer therapies.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Gene-Editing Technique Offers Hope For Hereditary Diseases
Salk scientists use molecular "scissors" to eliminate mitochondrial mutations in eggs and embryos.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Cellular Scissors Chop up HIV Virus
Salk scientists re-engineered the bacterial defense system CRISPR to recognize HIV inside human cells and destroy the virus, offering a potential new therapy.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Powerful Method To Speed Cancer Drug Discovery Unveiled
The new method lets researchers identify weak and previously undetectable interactions between proteins inside living cells.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Salk Scientists Discover a Key to Mending Broken Hearts
Researchers regenerate and heal mouse hearts by using the molecular machinery the animals had all along.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Turning Human Skin Cells Into Immune-Fighting White Blood Cells
The fast and safe technique developed at the Salk Institute circumvents problems that have hindered regenerative medicine.
Friday, September 12, 2014
No Extra Mutations in Modified Stem Cells, Study Finds
New results ease previous concerns that gene-editing techniques-used to develop therapies for genetic diseases-could add unwanted mutations to stem cells.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Salk Institute Receives $3M Gift for Ageing Research
The gift from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research will allow the Institute to continue conducting research to understand the biology of normal human aging and age-related diseases.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Circadian Clock Gene Linked to Eating Schedule
Research from the Salk Institute has shown that mutations in the circadian genes could drive night eating syndrome.
Friday, May 23, 2014
New Stem Cell Research Points to Early Indicators of Schizophrenia
Salk scientists show fundamental differences in early neurons from patients with schizophrenia, supporting the theory that risk for the disease may begin in the womb.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Salk Institute and Stanford Lead New $40M Stem Cell Genomics Center
Collaborative research center will bridge genomics and stem cell projects to find new therapies.
Sunday, February 02, 2014
Salk Scientists Discover more Versatile Approach to Creating Stem Cells
New method should hasten promise of regenerative medicine.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Revolutionary Technologies Developed to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients
Breath test to detect lung cancer brings oxygen directly to the wound.
Promising Drug Combination for Advanced Prostate Cancer
A new drug combination may be effective in treating men with metastatic prostate cancer. Preliminary results of this new approach are encouraging and have led to an ongoing international study being conducted in 196 hospitals worldwide.
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
When it Comes to Breast Cancer, Common Pigeon is No Bird Brain
If pigeons went to medical school and specialized in pathology or radiology, they’d be pretty good at distinguishing digitized microscope slides and mammograms of normal vs. cancerous breast tissue, a new study has found.
Editing of LIMS Data Made Faster and More Efficient in Matrix Gemini
The latest version of the Matrix Gemini LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) from Autoscribe Informatics now provides faster and more efficient editing of LIMS data by eliminating the need for a second editing screen.
University of Edinburgh, Selcia Achieve Key Milestones in Drug Development Program
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, working with Selcia, have successfully passed the 20-month milestone targets of a 30-month Wellcome Trust SDDi £2.5 million project to design novel treatments for sleeping sickness.
Red Clover Genome to Help Restore Sustainable Farming
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in collaboration with IBERS, has sequenced and assembled the DNA of red clover to help breeders improve the beneficial traits of this important forage crop.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos