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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Find Link between Jumping Gene and Colon Cancer

May 11, 2016

Scientists have known the existence of "jumping genes," strands of DNA that can move from one location to another. Now, researchers at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine (UM SOM) have demonstrated that one of these jumping genes play a key role in the generation of cancer.

Dr. Scott E. Devine, associate professor of medicine at UM SOM, and his colleagues focused on one jumping gene, LINE-1 (L1). The team suspects that L1 could trigger cancer by causing mutations in genes that suppress cancer. Out of several cancer-suppressing genes, the team focused on a tumor suppressor gene, APC.

Researchers screened tumors from patients, searching for L1 insertions at the APC gene and found evidence of this insertion in one. Further investigation of samples from the patient found more evidence that L1 plays a role in cancer development. The team found 27 L1 insertions only in the tumor and not in the surrounding healthy tissue. They also found evidence that L1 inactivates the APC gene, allowing tumors to grow unimpeded.

For more on this study, read the article in Genome Research.