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NCI Cancer Center News

Children's Hospital Boston scientists look to the genome’s 3D structure to understand chromosome reshuffling

  • Posted: February 17, 2012

That our chromosomes can break and reshuffle pieces of themselves is nothing new; scientists have recognized this for decades, especially in cancer cells. The rules for where chromosomes are likely to break and how the broken pieces come together are only just now starting to come into view. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Immune Disease Institute (IDI) have helped bring those rules into clearer focus by discovering that where each of the genome’s thousands of genes lie within the cell’s nucleus – essentially, the genome’s three-dimensional organization – holds great influence over where broken chromosome ends rejoin, knowledge that could shed light on fundamental processes related to cancer andnormal cellular functions, for example in immunity.

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Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 66 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.