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This Week in BMC Cancer: Dec 19, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the US and Germany write that SOX2 expression in right-sided colon cancer is associated with lymph-node metastases and distant spread of the disease. The team studied 114 right-sided colon cancers, half of which were matched with corresponding distant metastases and half of which were not. They found that elevated SOX2 expression significantly correlates with the presence of lymph node or distant metastases. The team also measured nuclear beta-catenin expression and found that it correlated significantly only with distant metastases. In the 10 percent of cases that showed high levels of both beta-catenin and SOX2, this expression pattern correlated with a very high risk for both lymph node and distant metastases.

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Poland found an association between decreased expression of 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 and DNA hypermethylation in colorectal cancer. The team analyzed HSD17B1 expression in two colorectal cancer cell lines and in tumor tissue collected from 52 patients. They found a significant decrease in HSD17B1 transcript and protein levels in colorectal cancer from the proximal colon, but not from the distal colon or rectum. "This reduced HSD17B1 expression was associated with significantly increased DNA methylation in the CpG rich region located in the 5' flanking sequence of the HSD17B1 gene in CRC in the proximal but not distal colon and rectum," the authors write.

Finally in BMC Cancer this week researchers in the UK and Australia report results from a prospective study of the association between physical activity and risk of skin cancer. Using available data from 16 years of follow-up of 1,171 adults, the team found no significant association between recreational activity and squamous cell carcinoma, after controlling for possible confounding factors like sun exposure. "Despite some suggestion that recreational activity in men and occupational activity in women are related to occurrence of SCC, there is no firm support for a role of physical activity in the development of cutaneous SCC," the authors write.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.