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This Week in BMC Cancer: Aug 6, 2012


In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Greece report on the role of thymidylate synthetase, or TYMS, in non-small-cell lung cancer. The team examined the mRNA expression of DNA repair and replication genes BRCA1, ERCC1, RRM1, and TYMS in 276 NSCLC samples and found that expression of all four genes was increased in tumors compared to matched normal lung parenchyma. In particular, the researchers found that aberrant intratumoral TYMS expression predicted shorter progression-free survival. "Classifying intratumoral [BRCA1, ERCC1, RRM1, and TYMS] mRNA expression in comparison to normal lung may facilitate standardization of these parameters for prospective studies," the team adds. "With this approach, NSCLC patients with aberrant intratumoral TYMS expression will probably fare better with platinum-based treatments."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Cyprus and the UK describe their development of a selectively cytotoxic fusion protein to treat p53-mutated cancers. "The fusion protein was produced from the cell-translocating peptide Antennapedia (Antp) and wild-type, full-length p21 (Antp-p21)," the authors write. "This was expressed and refolded from E. coli and tested on a variety of cell lines and tumors with differing p21 or p53 status." The researchers found that Antp-p21 killed cancer cells that didn't express wild-type p53 or p21, and selectively killed cancer cells that had become malignant because of mutations in p53 or p21. "Recombinant Antp peptide alone was not cytotoxic, showing that killing was due to the transduction of the p21 component of Antp-p21," the team adds. "Antp-p21 was shown to penetrate cancer cells engrafted in vivo and resulted in tumor eradication when administered with conventionally-used chemotherapeutic agents, which alone were unable to produce such an effect."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers at Clark Atlanta University report that the tumor suppressor maspin is negatively regulated by Snail transcription factor in human prostate cancer cells. The team analyzed maspin expression in prostate cancer cell lines and found that Snail expression was higher the prostate cancer cell lines that had lower maspin expression. "Snail overexpression in 22Rv1 prostate cancer cells inhibited maspin expression and led to increased migration and invasion," the team writes. "Knockdown of Snail in DU145 and C4-2 cancer cells resulted in up-regulation of maspin expression, concomitant with decreased migration."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.