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What If It Can't Be Stopped?

A team led by researchers at Kiel University has found that tumors can occur naturally in Hydra, suggesting that "spontaneous tumors have deep evolutionary roots" as they wrote in Nature Communications earlier this summer.

They examined polyps from Hydra oligactis and Pelmatohydra robusta that had altered morphology and tumor-like properties, including the ability to be established as a clonal line.

Histological and molecular analysis of these two lines indicated that Hydra tumors are made up of cells similar to female germline precursor cells, though transcriptome analysis found that the tumor cells have a different gene expression profile from the germline precursor cells. They also noted the Hydra gene homologous to the human anti-apoptotic tpt1 gene is upregulated in Hydra tumors, as compared to female and asexual control polyps.

The Kiel team also transplanted Hydra tumor cells into healthy Hydra, where the tumor cells then invaded the healthy tissue.

This, senior author Thomas Bosch from Kiel tells NPR, suggest that the ability to develop cancer may be "an intrinsic property" of cells.

Of course, Bosch adds, "that doesn't mean that, with a patient who develops cancer, there's nothing you can do."

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.