BioFiles Volume 5, Number 6 — Cancer

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Vicki Caligur
Vicki Caligur

This issue of Biofiles reviews some of our newest and most innovative technologies and their specific applications toward cancer research. In preparing this issue of Biofiles, one is reminded how complex the disease of cancer is, and how difficult it is to identify one topic that is completely unrelated to any other. An initial interest in dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and antifolate compounds such as methotrexate led to an examination of the IUBMB-Sigma-Nicholson Metabolic Pathways Chart, to identify the role that DHFR plays in cell metabolism. The minimaps for the folic acid C1 pathway show a complicated metabolic cycle of multiple substrates derived from tetrahydrofolate that contributes to nucleic acid synthesis, biomolecule methylation, amino acid regeneration, and other syntheses and carbon transfer processes.

These folate derivatives and cofactors share some common aspects with other topics within this issue:

  • One of the folic acid pathways regenerates methionine which is subsequently converted to S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). SAM is the substrate that donates one-carbon methyl groups used in DNA methylation. Methylation and other epigenetic changes to DNA have been associated with the activation of oncogenes and increases in cell immortalization. This issue includes a review of the types of genetic modifications and how they contribute to cancer development. Folic acid metabolism can then be linked to contributing to epigenetic modifications.
  • Folate deficiency in normal rats produced DNA breaks and hypomethylation in the tumor suppressor gene p53. Mutations of this gene have been observed in 30–50% of cancers commonly found in humans, and p53 is fundamental to the induction of apoptosis.

It is probable that similar associations could be found to link all of the technologies in this issue to each other through cancer and other research areas.

Also in this issue:

  • The Human Protein Atlas project continues to add images of immunohistochemistry staining of human cancer tissues using Prestige Antibodies®. Recently the RNA binding protein RBM3 was found to be a prognostic biomarker for breast cancer and a potential biomarker for other cancer types.
  • Sigma is pleased to expand the availability of the European Collection of Cell Cultures (ECACC) to the United States and other areas. ECACC provides several cancer-based cell lines for targeted research applications.

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