Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
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
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 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ 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

Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
UT Southwestern Biochemist Receives NIH Early Independence Award
Dr. William Israelsen studies on hibernation may aid the fight against cancer.
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
UT Southwestern Geneticist to Receive Pearl Meister Greengard Prize
Dr. Helen Hobbs will receive the prize Nov. 17 in a ceremony at The Rockefeller University.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Physiologists Uncover a New Code at the Heart of Biology
New “code” - the speed limit of assembly - dictate the ultimate function of a given protein.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
CRI Scientists See Through Bones
Findings uncover new details about blood-forming stem cells.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Researchers Assist in Landmark NIH Study
Study shows intensive blood pressure management may save lives.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Regenerative Medicine Biologists Discover a Cellular Structure that Explains Fate of Stem Cells
The findings are presented in the journal Nature.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Cell that Replenishes Heart Muscle Found by UT Southwestern Researchers
Researchers devise a new cell-tracing technique to detect cells that do replenish themselves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Researchers Find Molecular Mechanisms within Fetal Lungs that Initiate Labor
Biochemists found that steroid receptor coactivators 1 and 2 (SRC-1 and SRC-2) proteins control genes.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Researchers Discover Molecule that Accelerates Tissue Regeneration
Newly discovered molecule, SW033291 accelerate cell recovery following bone marrow transplants.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Boosting Gut Bacteria Defense System May Lead to Better Treatments
Life-threatening bloodstream infections reversed by enhancing a specific immune defense response.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
Immunity Enzyme Defends Against Tuberculosis Infection
Study shows that cGAS enzyme is essential for defense against the tuberculosis bacteria.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
UT Southwestern Faculty Members Named HHMI Investigators
Appointment of Dr. Kim Orth and Dr. Joshua Mendell to HHMI.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
UT Southwestern’s Dr. Philipp Scherer Receive Banting Medal
Dr. Scherer will receive the prestigious Medal for diabetes research.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Mutations in Two Genes Linked to Familial Pulmonary Fibrosis and Telomere Shortening
PARN and RTEL1 genes strengthen the link between lung fibrosis and telomere dysfunction.
Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Scientific News
Researchers Develop Classification Model for Cancers Caused by KRAS
Most frequently mutated cancer gene help oncologists choose more effective cancer therapies.
Fixing Holes in the Heart Without Invasive Surgery
UV-light enabled catheter is a medical device which represents a major shift in how cardiac defects are repaired.
Chromosomal Chaos
Penn study forms basis for future precision medicine approaches for Sezary syndrome
Enzyme Malfunction May be Why Binge Drinking Can Lead to Alcoholism
A new study in mice shows that restoring the synthesis of a key brain chemical tied to inhibiting addictive behavior may help prevent alcohol cravings following binge drinking.
Key to Natural Detoxifier’s Reactivity Discovered
Results have implications for health, drug design and chemical synthesis.
New Treatment for Obesity Developed
Researchers at the University of Liverpool, working with a global healthcare company, have helped develop a new treatment for obesity.
New Protein Found in Immune Cells
Immunobiologists from the University of Freiburg discover Kidins220/ARMS in B cells and demonstrate its functions.
Will Brain Palpation Soon Be Possible?
Researchers have developed non-invasive brain imaging technique which provides the same information as physical palpation.
Shaking Up the Foundations of Epigenetics
Researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the University of Barcelona (UB) published a study that challenges some of the current beliefs about epigenetics.
Groundbreaking Computer Program Diagnoses Cancer in Two Days
Researchers have combined genetics with computer science and created a new diagnostic technology can with 85 per cent certainty identify the source of the disease and thus target treatment and, ultimately, improve the prognosis for the patient.
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
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos