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Researchers find common properties in stem and cancer cells

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows a mechanism that explains the common properties shared by stem cells and cancer cells. The work has been made by the Cancer Epigenetics Research Group, led by Manel Esteller, ICREA researcher at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona (UB).

STAFF | AUGUST 23 TH, 2010


Sirtuïna 1 (SIRT1) active in stem cells (ES) and inactive
in differentiated cells (EB15)


A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) identifies a mechanism that explains the common properties shared by stem cells and cancer cells. The study was carried out by the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Programme, led by Manel Esteller, ICREA researcher at Barcelona’s Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona (UB).

"In particular we have found that a protein involved in increasing longevity, called sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) is very active in stem cells, which by definition never age," said Esteller. When the stem cells start to differentiate in order to generate different tissues, the sirtuin 1 activity is lost. According to the researcher, "this process is very similar to what happens in cancer cells: sirtuin 1 is highly active in human tumors because they are immortal and undifferentiated cells."

The results indicate that SIRT1 is regulated during the differentiation of stem cells by some unknown epigenetic mechanism that controls specific development in embryonic stem cells. The study’s findings also generate interest because exist substances, at least in the laboratory, which can affect this process. These substances stimulate the differentiation of stem cells and their anti-tumor properties by causing the sudden aging of cancer cells.

The study also involved researchers at the Central University Hospital of the Asturias, the Andalusian Center of Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the Biomedical Network Research Center on Liver and Digestive Diseases.
 
Reference paper

Calvanese, V.; Lara, E.; Suárez-Álvarez, B.; Dawud, R. A.; Vázquez-Chantada, M.; Martínez-Chantar, M. L.; López-Nieva, Hornillo, A.; Hmadcha, A.; Soria, B.; Mato, J. M.; Andrews, P. W.; López-Larrea, C.; Esteller, M.; Fraga, M. F. «Sirtuin 1 regulation of developmental genes during differentiation of stem cells». Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA (PNAS). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001399107, 2010.
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josé fco 19/09/2010
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