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This Week in Cancer Cell: Mar 11, 2011

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In Cancer Cell this week, researchers in France, Spain, and the Netherlands present a mouse model of small-cell lung cancer that they say shows a functional role for tumor cell heterogeneity. SCLC tumors are often composed of neuroendocrine and mesenchymal cells, and mesenchymal cells can endow neuroendocrine cells with metastatic capacity, the authors write. Oncoprotein RasV12 can make neuroendocrine cells transition to a mesenchymal phenotype, facilitating metastasis. "Crosstalk between mesenchymal and neuroendocrine cells strongly influenced their behavior," the authors write. "When engrafted as a mixed population, the mesenchymal cells endowed the neuroendocrine cells with metastatic capacity, illustrating the potential relevance of tumor cell heterogeneity in dictating tumor properties."

Also in Cancer Cell this week, a team of researchers from across the US say they have evidence for a relationship between undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma and embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. The precise cell of origin for embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma remains undefined, but by using Ptch1, p53, and Rb1 mouse models, the authors demonstrate that embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma "lie in a continuum, which satellite cells predisposed to giving rise to UPS." Therefore, the team adds, sarcoma phenotype is influenced by cell of origin and mutational profile.

And finally, researchers in Germany say that early relapse in acute lymphoblastic leukemia can be identified by time-to-leukemia in mice and is characterized by a gene signature in survival pathways. Short time-to-leukemia in the mice engrafted with ALL cells was strongly associated with high risk for early relapse, the authors write, "identifying an important prognostic factor." The high-risk phenotype was reflected by a gene signature which pointed to pathways like mTOR involved in cell growth and apoptosis. "The pathways identified can directly be targeted, thereby offering additional treatment approaches for these high-risk patients," the team adds.

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.