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Study Presents New Insights Into How Cancer Cells Overcome Telomere Shortening

A University of Oxford-led team has uncovered new details about how cancer cells overcome telomere shortening to allow themselves to divide indefinitely. The findings, which appear in Nucleic Acids Research this week, may lead to new cancer therapeutic approaches. Tumor cells use telomere maintenance mechanisms (TMMs) to enable unchecked proliferation and the majority of cancers achieve this through the upregulation of telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein that acts to progressively add telomeric repeats to the end of chromosomes. But new research has revealed that a subset of cancers maintain their telomere length through a telomerase-independent TMM called the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway. ALT cancers almost all feature the loss of the ATRX chromatin remodeler, but the other cellular events involved remain unknown. In this week's study, the scientists show that in ATRX-deficient cancer cells, increased trapping of proteins on DNA leads to replication fork stalling and collapse. At telomeres, this leads to ALT pathway activity, according to the study's authors. "Further insight into the basic biology of ALT cancer cells could lead to the design of more novel targeted chemotherapeutic agents and, eventually, to improved outcomes for individuals with [ALT-positive] cancers," they write.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.