U Penn study finds changes to DNA on-off switches affect cells' ability to repair breaks, respond to chemotherapy
Double-strand breaks in DNA happen every time a cell divides and replicates. Depending on the type of cell, that can be pretty often. Many proteins are involved in everyday DNA repair, but if they are mutated, the repair system breaks down and cancer can occur. Cells have two complicated ways to repair these breaks, which can affect the stability of the entire genome. Researchers from the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, found a key determinant in the balance between two proteins, BRCA1 and 53BP1, in the DNA repair machinery. Breast and ovarian cancer are associated with a breakdown in the repair systems involving these proteins. Their findings appear in the latest online issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 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.