Aldehydes are a class of chemicals made in our own bodies in small quantities but increasingly found everywhere in our environment. Exposure to these chemicals has previously been linked with cancer, but the reasons for the link remain unclear.
New research led by Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, Director of the Medical Research Council Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge, has used genetically-engineered human cells and cells from patients bearing a faulty copy of the breast cancer gene BRCA2 to identify the mechanism by which exposure to aldehydes could promote cancer.
Damage - DNA - Cells - Bodies - Development
Damage to our DNA, which arises frequently as cells in our bodies divide, can lead to the development of cancers, but our body has its own defence mechanism that helps repair this damage. However, Professor Venkitaraman and colleagues found that aldehyde exposure breaks down this defence mechanisms even in normal healthy cells, but people who have inherited a faulty copy of BRCA2 are particularly sensitive to such damage.
Everyone is born with two copies of most genes. People who inherit a single faulty copy of the BRCA2 gene are susceptible to cancer. The reason why is not fully understood, because their cells should be able to repair DNA using the lower -- but still adequate -- levels of BRCA2 protein made from the remaining, intact copy of the gene.
Study - Aldehydes - Degradation - BRCA2 - Protein
This new study shows that aldehydes trigger the degradation of BRCA2 protein in cells. In people who inherit one faulty copy of the BRCA2 gene, this effect pushes down BRCA2 protein levels below the amount required for adequate DNA repair, breaking down the normal mechanisms that prevent mutations, which could promote cancer...
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