Naked Mole-Rats’ Anti-Cancer Gene
News May 07, 2015
Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.
The researchers from Queen Mary Univ. of London sequenced the HAS2 gene in 13 similar or related mammals, combining the data with DNA sequences extracted from 57 published genomes representing all the major mammal groups. They found that while all African mole rats share some mutations in the HAS2 gene, the naked mole-rat has a unique combination.
Dr. Chris Faulkes, lead author of the paper, said: “While naked moles-rats are extreme in many aspects of their biology, we predicted that we would see similar molecular adaptations in the HAS2 gene in other mole-rats and subterranean mammals, yet they remain unique even among other mole-rats within the family.”
“However, our study has identified a number of other HAS2 gene mutations that are predicted to have a significant effect on hyaluronan production, opening up exciting new avenues of research into the pathways whereby HMM-HA prevents tumor formation.”
In treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), physicians can have a hard time telling which newly diagnosed patients have a high risk of severe inflammation or what therapies will be most effective. Now researchers report finding an epigenetic signature in patient cells that appears to predict inflammation risk in a serious type of IBD called Crohn’s disease.
When people take MDMA, the drug popularly known as ecstasy, a rush of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin makes people more interested than they would normally be in connecting and sharing with other people. Now, researchers have made the surprising discovery that a species of octopus considered to be asocial responds to MDMA in the same way.