Upcoming Webinars Archived Webinars Training Vitals Host A Webinar About Get Updates Contact

Transposon Implicated As Colon Cancer Trigger


Colon Cancer

Using new technologies allowing them to track insertion of the L1 transposon, the researchers found that the L1 transposon affects a tumor suppressor gene known as APC. This gene has been shown to be mutated in approximately 85 percent of colorectal cancers.

Share this!

May 13, 2016 | by Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

Transposons – genes that are able to extricate themselves from one part of the genome, and insert into another location – could play a role in colon cancer development, according to research performed at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine in Baltimore. While a surprising number of these so-called “jumping genes” are present in the human genome, little is known about their function.

Transposons were first discovered in maize in the 1940s by geneticist, Barbara McClintock. These transposable elements are responsible for some of the colour variation seen in maize kernels, and McClintock would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for her discovery.

While previous research showed that transposons were active in many types of cancer, this is the first time they have been conclusively linked to development of the disease. The research was published in the journal, Genome Research.

The study authors researched a transposon known as L1, which was previously thought to have no effect. In the last 25 years, however, multiple studies have shown that the transposon is active in disease states, including hemophilia and some cancers.

Using new technologies allowing them to track insertion of the L1 transposon, Dr. Scott E. Devine, associate professor of medicine at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine in Baltimore, and his colleagues found that L1 affects a tumor suppressor gene known as APC. This gene has been shown to be mutated in approximately 85 percent of colorectal cancers.

To figure out how common L1 insertions were among patients with colorectal cancer, the team screened tumor samples taken from ten patients. Evidence of L1 insertions in the APC gene were found in nine of the ten tumor samples, and no evidence of this phenomenon was seen in healthy tissue.

According to the researchers, just one L1 insertion is sufficient to inactivate the APC tumor suppressor gene, allowing tumors to grow unchecked. This L1 insertion also pairs up with a mutation in a patient’s second copy of the APC gene, effectively silencing the gene’s role in preventing cancer.

“This is really a new way to understand how tumors grow,” said Devine. “We think it could explain a lot about the mutation process that underlies at least some cancers.”

As some of the patients tested had a familial history of cancer, Devine suggests that some groups could be more susceptible to cancers resulting from L1 insertions. Interestingly, as over half of our genome is made up of transposons and other mobile DNA elements, it’s likely they also play a crucial role in normal cell functions.

Keywords: Colon Cancer, Tumor Suppression, Human Genome


Share this with your colleagues!

Researchers Identify Role of ApoE4 Gene as Possible Drug Target in Alzheimer’s Disease

September 21, 2017 - A team of neurology researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that in the presence of the ApoE4 protein, another protein known as tau forms tangles in the brain which contributes to neuronal damage characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Featured In: Life Science News

New Guidelines Address CAR-T Immunotherapy Toxicities to Prevent Patient Deaths

September 20, 2017 - Clinicians at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have published new guidelines in the journal, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, which could help in the management of these toxicities.

Featured In: Biotech News, Drug Safety News

Microneedle Skin Patch Could Treat Common Metabolic Disorders

September 19, 2017 - Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the University of North Carolina have developed a microneedle skin patch impregnated with a drug capable of converting white fat into calorie-burning brown fat.

Featured In: Medical Device News


Five Reasons Why Toronto is Emerging as a Major Life Sciences Hub


Development and Manufacture of Highly Potent API Drug Products Throughout the Clinical Phases

Innovation through Integration – Providing Next Generation Biomedical Devices and Interconnects

Clinical Payments Case Studies: Improving Efficiency, Cash Management, and Compliance

Why Phase 3 Trials Fail: Oncology Case Studies and Lessons Learned

Copyright © 2016-2017 Honeycomb Worldwide Inc.