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This Week in BMC Cancer: Jun 4, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Ireland describe the development of a new bioluminescent model for the visualization of mammary tumor development in a mouse model of cancer. The team generated a new mouse strain expressing Luc2 luciferase in mammary tissue in females, and these mice were cross-bred with MMTV-PyVT mice, an established mouse model used to study metastatic disease. The resulting mice developed tumors, and the researchers were able to track the localization and progression of these tumors using the luminescence-based in vivo imaging. "Luminescence-based readout allowed for early visualization of the locally overgrown mammary tissue and for longitudinal evaluation of local progression of the tumors," the authors write. "When sampled ex vivo at the age of 10 weeks, all tumors derived from MMTV-Luc2PyVT females displayed robust bioluminescent signal."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Italy report on the use of levels of Epstein-Barr virus DNA in the plasma of nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients to predict cancer recurrence. The team analyzed plasma samples from 36 patients treated with induction chemotherapy and chemoradiation, and determined circulating EBV DNA levels in samples taken before treatment, at the end of treatment, and in follow-up. They found that pre-treatment levels of viral DNA significantly correlated with initial disease stage and probability of relapse. "The results of this study confirm that patients from a Western country affected by loco-regionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma have high plasma Epstein-Barr virus DNA levels at diagnosis," the authors write. "The monitoring of plasma levels is sensitive and highly specific in detecting disease recurrence and metastases."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the US and Europe report the results of a microarray study on the effects of a mutated BRCA1 C-terminus domain on the human transcriptome. The team used human whole-genome microarrays to compare the expression profiles of HeLa cells transfected with one of two BRCA1 missense variants — M1775R and A1789T — to HeLa cells transfected with wild-type BRCA1. They found 201 differentially expressed genes in the comparison of the M1775R transfected cells versus the wild-type transfected cells, 313 in the A1789T versus wild-type cells, and 173 in the cells transfected with both variants versus wild-type cells. "Most of these genes mapped in pathways deregulated in cancer, such as cell cycle progression and DNA damage response and repair," the authors write. "Our results represent the first molecular evidence of the pathogenetic role of M1775R, already proposed by functional studies, and give support to a similar role for A1789T that we first hypothesized based on the yeast cell experiments."

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.