News from CEXS-UPF
Colon cancer development starts with the formation of benign tumours called adenomas. It is estimated that between 30% and 50% of people over 50 will develop one of these tumours. These adenomas or polyps are the pre-cancerous lesions that, once they accumulate further genetic mutations over many years, can progress to colon cancer.
A team of scientists has discovered that the colon has a safety mechanism to restrict the formation and growth of adenomas. The study was published on Sunday in the advanced online edition of the journal Nature Cell Biology and will be the cover of the July issue.
The researchers have observed that the formation of an adenoma in the colon is accompanied by an increase in the production of a molecule called BMP (bone morphogenetic protein). The study explains that BMP limits the self-renewal capacity of adenoma stem cells, thus impeding the rapid development of the lesion.
The work was done at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and was headed by the ICREA researcher Eduard Batlle, together with Francisco X. Real, Professor of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS) of the UPF and group leader of the Epithelial Carcinogenesis group at the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). Other authors include researchers at the IMIM and the CRG.
As stated by Francisco X. Real, "the contribution of my lab was the determination of GATA6 as a regulator of the security mechanism of the development of colorectal adenomas at genomic level, using chromatin immunoprecipitation and massive sequencing techniques."
Gavin Whissell, Elisa Montagni, Paola Martinelli, Xavier Hernando-Momblona, Marta Sevillano, Peter Jung, Carme Cortina, Alexandre Calon, Anna Abuli, Antoni Castells, Sergi Castellvi-Bel, Ana Silvina Nacht, Elena Sancho, Camille Stephan-Otto Attolini, Guillermo P. Vicent, Francisco X. Real and Eduard Batlle (2014), "The transcription factor GATA6 enables self-renewal of colon adenoma stem cells by repressing BMP gene expression", Nature Cell Biology (2014) Doi: 10.1038/ncb2992