Nav: Home

Extra chromosomes in cancers can be good or bad

February 24, 2020

Cancer cells are notorious for their genetic disarray. A tumor cell can contain an abundance of DNA mutations and most have the wrong number of chromosomes. A missing or extra copy of a single chromosome creates an imbalance called aneuploidy, which can skew the activity of hundreds or thousands of genes. As cancer progresses, so does aneuploidy. Some advanced tumors can harbor cells that have accumulated more than 100 chromosomes, instead of 46 in normal cells.

High levels of aneuploidy are associated with aggressive cancers and a poor prognosis for patients. But according to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory investigator Jason Sheltzer and colleagues, not all aneuploidies spur cancer's progression. In the journal Developmental Cell, they report that some aneuploidies inhibit a cancer's ability to metastasize.

Sheltzer says that although aneuploidy is very common in cancer cells, it hasn't been clear whether these abnormalities help drive the disease. His team collaborated with Zuzana Storchová at the University of Kaiserslautern, developing new tools to investigate how cancer cells' behavior changes when they acquire an extra chromosome. They engineered sets of human cells that each had an extra copy of a different chromosome, but were otherwise identical.

When postdoctoral researcher Anand Vasudevan tested these cells in the laboratory, the results were surprising. "Since highly aggressive cancers tend to be aneuploid, we expected that all or most aneuploidies would contribute to metastatic behavior," Sheltzer says. "But it is actually a more complicated relationship. We found that different chromosomes can have all sorts of different impacts." Some extra chromosomes had no impact on metastasis, whereas others actually suppressed it.

Analysis of patient data revealed something similar. While survival is poorest among patients whose cancers have a high level of aneuploidy overall, the team identified certain chromosomes for which extra copies were associated with increased survival. These beneficial aneuploidies were less common than those linked to poor survival. This is probably because changes that help a tumor flourish are the ones most likely to persist as the disease progresses. Their presence indicates that the clinical impacts of aneuploidy are likely to be just as complicated as the lab experiments suggest, Sheltzer says.

Sheltzer's team is exploring the single aneuploidy that enhanced metastasis in their experiments to understand how an extra copy of that chromosome strengthens cancer cells' invasive behavior. They will also use their new aneuploid cell lines to screen for potential drugs and genetic changes that eliminate cancer cells by targeting these abnormalities.
-end-


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.