Salk researchers identify potential biomarker for cancer diagnosis

Salk researchers identify potential biomarker for cancer diagnosis


In your cell, you have all of your DNA which
is contained in the nucleus. This nucleus is surrounded by a membrane that we call the
nuclear envelope and our lab has been very interested in the dynamics of that membrane
and how that may affect the ability of the nucleus to function and also its relationship
to cancer. So one of the hallmarks of cancer and this also happens in normal cells is that
sometimes you get what’s called a lagging chromosome. So a piece of DNA could gets left
behind and after the cell goes out of mitosis and is done dividing, this piece of DNA will
form its own nucleus in addition to all the rest of the chromatin which is forming what
we call primary nucleus and this guy we call the micro nucleus. This micronuclei have some problems. Basic
nuclear function seem to not be working right in them but it’s never been clear about why
that’s happening and so what we’ve done is we found that if you look at what’s happening
to the nuclear membrane, we find instead of maintaining the micro nucleus as a little
DNA compartment, it’s actually rupturing causing that DNA to instead of being in a nucleus
be stuck in the cytoplasm and that means that we’re losing all the functions from it. Interesting part is that, sometimes this kind
of stranded DNA in the cytoplasm gets reincorporated back into the main genome. But if you think
about it, this is really a bad idea because this DNA has been heavily damaged, maybe it
hasn’t replicated, hasn’t really been working correctly and now it’s back in the rest of
the nucleus and you get rearrangements and mutations that can lead to increased cell
division and cancer. This is basically one of the first experiments
that shows a link between dynamics of the nuclear membrane and something that may be
leading to cancer progression. So gives us another tool that we can use to try to affect
the course of the cancer by targeting the nuclear membrane. And second of all, the things
that we found can be applicable to diagnostics for certain types of tumors or how far your
tumor has progressed and we think would lead to a more accurate diagnosis. Now we have
a very easy way to identify micronuclei genomic instability in solid tumors very quickly and
very easily.

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