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ID 951

Hallmarks, Promoting mutations

Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, explains that genomic instability is a characteristic of cancer cells.
A cell carries the entire set of genetic instructions – the genome – that makes an entire organism. The instructions are encoded in DNA as genes and packaged as chromosomes in the nucleus. DNA is not immutable and is subject to damage and mutations. Crucial changes in the genome affect the chance and rate of the development of a cancer cell. Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: “A characteristic of cancer cells is that those cells have changes in the nature of the genes that are compared to the normal cells. These changes can be either mutations, or they can be deletion of whole genes, or they can be the addition of extra copies of genes. This is called genomic instability. The changes in our genes that accumulate in cancer cells can be acquired by a number of mechanisms. One is that during the process of copying the genetic information, mistakes can be made. After the genetic information is copied, it has to be segregated to the two daughter cells. During that segregation process, it is often that the numbers of genes get distributed unevenly to those daughter cells. A third way is that cancer cells have an inability to repair alterations in the DNA.” Bruce Stillman, Ph.D. is president and chief executive officer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is interested in understanding the mechanism and control of DNA replication in higher cells. Working in baker's yeast, he has identified DNA sequences and proteins that interact to initiatiate chromosome duplication. “You need to acquire multiple changes in the genes, multiple genes, to get a full-blown cancer estimates to be about 5-7 genes perhaps on average. Those changes accumulate over a period of time. Some of those changes accelerate the rate of accumulation of that. What is interesting is that some of them are inherited ahead of time. So BRCA-1 for instance, you are born with one of the niches already taken out of your belt and then to accumulate the other 4 or 5 changes, you are already on the way. And that is why there's a higher probability of getting cancer.”
cold spring harbor laboratory, bruce stillman, brca 1, daughter cells, cancer cells, information mistakes, crucial changes, cancer cell, genetic information, extra copies, hallmarks, genetic instability
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