Tumor development involves epigenetic changes, including the activation of oncogenes and the silencing of tumor suppressor genes, but to what extent these epigenetic changes can be reprogrammed is largely unknown. Now, a study in the August 2 Genes and Development reveals that the nuclear transplantation of a cancer cell nucleus into an oocyte can reverse its cancer phenotype and produce embryonic stem cells with developmental potential.

"How interesting," said Frederick Domann, from the University of Iowa, referring to the ability to reprogram a cancer cell nucleus. "I think this will have a broad impact on our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms," Domann, who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist.

In addition to genetic changes, epigenetic modifications, such as the methylation of DNA and the acetylation/deacetylation of histones, are increasingly being found to affect the characteristics of tumors. "The phenotype of a cancer cell is obviously...

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