This is the time of year to spruce up the garden, but a recent report has us thinking more about a DNA Methylation landscaper: CTCF. Epigenetic marks have long been associated with cancer and resarchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle) have shown that when the epigenetic groundskeepers (i.e. CTCF) are short handed, the epigenetic weeds tend to get unruly. Here’s what the scientists dug out:
- Mice that are hemizygous (have only one copy) for CTCF are cancer prone.
- Reduced CTCF was found to destabilize DNA methylation prior to cancerous tumor development.
- Tumors from the hemizygous loss of CTCF were especially aggressive.
- CTCF is also frequently hemizygous in human tumors.
The authors concluded that CTCF is a haploinsufficent tumour-suppresor gene, since having only a single functional copy predisposes us to cancers caused by chemical exposures, radiation, and even time itself. This report establishes CTCF as a notable tumour-suppresor and hints that the epigenetic stability caused by it is a major roadblock to cancer progression. So the next time you’re out there appreciating any landscape, whether macroscopic or microscopic, don’t forget to thank the crew that keeps it pretty.
Stop beating around the bush and check out Cell Reports, May 2014