Genomic component playing key role in promoting breast cancer progression discovered

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) today announced that its scientists have teamed with researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, and other institutions to discover a genomic component that plays a key role in promoting breast cancer progression. A study published today in the journal Nature details how levels of a specific kind of non-coding RNA molecule in primary breast tumors regulate metastasis and tumor invasiveness and may be an important target for cancer diagnosis and therapy. A key to this finding was the ability of a new set of Applied Biosystems TaqMan® Non-Coding RNA Assays to accurately measure expression levels of this molecular marker in different breast cancer samples.

“LincRNAs are pervasively expressed in the genome, yet their potential role in human disease is not well understood”

Non-coding RNAs are RNA molecules that are transcribed from the genome but are not translated into proteins. These molecules have been implicated in a broad variety of cellular functions and diseases. In this study, scientists discovered that an increase in levels of a specific long intervening non-coding RNA (lincRNA), termed HOTAIR, results in reprogramming of epigenetic components of breast tumors, inducing cancer invasiveness and metastasis. Conversely, suppression of HOTAIR inhibits cancer invasiveness. Entitled "Long Non-coding RNA HOTAIR Reprograms Chromatin State to Promote Cancer Metastasis," the paper appears in the April 15th edition of Nature.

"LincRNAs are pervasively expressed in the genome, yet their potential role in human disease is not well understood," said Yulei Wang, Ph.D., Sr. Staff Scientist at Life Technologies and a co-author of the study. "The discovery of the important regulatory role played by HOTAIR in the progression of breast cancer may open up new avenues in cancer therapy."

In this study, the TaqMan Non-coding RNA Assays helped to uncover regulatory roles of non-coding RNAs in breast cancer. Researchers used a panel of these TaqMan assays to target and quantify expression levels of lincRNAs in a specific region of the genome. This new set of genomic assays, along with other technologies, showed that the regulatory function of lincRNAs in this region becomes impaired during breast cancer progression. Further, expression levels of the lincRNA HOTAIR significantly increased in primary breast tumors and during metastases. Combining this data with results of other experiments in the study, the researchers reported that high levels of HOTAIR in breast cancer tumors contribute to the epigenetic silencing of genes that suppress metastasis, providing a molecular explanation for the spread of breast cancer.

"Quantitative PCR tools, like the TaqMan Non-coding RNA Assays, are helping scientists to correlate the activity of specific genomic regions with characteristics of complex diseases like cancer," said Sam Raha, Vice President and General Manager, Genomic Assays, Life Technologies. "The high accuracy and unrivaled sensitivity of our growing line of TaqMan RNA analysis assays continue to advance science that reveals genomic clues about cell functions and disease processes."

SOURCE Life Technologies Corporation

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