In 1998 and in 2000, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported that colorectal cancer cell lines and primary tumors from the bladder, head, neck, and lung harbor mutations, deletions, and insertions in the 16.6-kilobase mitochondrial genome. Add prostate and breast cancers to that list, according to posters at the AACR meeting presented by groups from Emory University and Johns Hopkins. At one poster, John A. Petros, an associate professor of urology at Emory, described a study that he says shows for the first time that mitrochondrial DNA [mtDNA] mutations can enhance tumor growth. After he and colleagues, including Emory's Douglas C. Wallace, introduced such a mutation into a prostate cancer cell line, the cells proliferated 50 percent faster and underwent apoptosis four times less than nonmutant cells. Sixty days after the group implanted the cells into mice, tumors derived from cells containing mutant mtDNA were 10 times larger...

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