Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine led by Dr. Olivier Elemento, recently published results announcing the discovery of thousands of new genes from human samples of lymphoma. Known as IncRNAs these genes produce long non-coding RNAs and are involved in gene regulation. The IncRNAs appear to control whether other genes make proteins. The discovery of these genes could underline the processes of gene regulation that drives lymphomas, while in the future leading to possible targets for new diffuse large B-cell lymphoma therapies.
“These genes produce long non-coding RNAs, known as lncRNAs. Unlike RNA that produces proteins that enable the body to do its work, the lncRNA appear to switch on — or off — other genes that make proteins, researchers say. They counted 2,632 different forms of these unusual RNA molecules. They also found a substantial number of the same or similar lncRNAs in canine lymphoma.”
The study’s senior author, Dr. Olivier Elemento commented,
“While we don’t know precisely what these molecules are doing, the fact that the majority — about two-thirds — of the long non-coding RNAs we found are expressed exclusively in lymphoma, and that many are found in both human and dog lymphoma, tells us that they are likely playing fundamental roles in this cancer…”
Findings like these exemplify the bench to bedside approach in the Lymphoma Program at Weill Cornell Medicine. Look to this space for future updates on this topic and other advances in the treatment of lymphoma. A full listing of available clinical trials for DLBCL lymphoma can be found on our Joint Clinical Trials website.
The activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) gene has long been understood to play a role in the body’s defense against pathogens. The AID gene ensures that the B-cells responsible for antibody production can generate the antibodies that defend the body. Recently a team of research scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College published results outlining a new role for the AID gene. In these first of their kind findings researchers demonstrated the epigenetic role of the gene:
“…the researchers discovered that the enzyme encoded by the AID gene is also involved in removing chemical tags from DNA. These tags, known as methyl groups, regulate gene expression. Removing these methyl groups, a process called hypomethylation, allows B cells to rapidly change their genome in preparation for antibody production.”
“AID is a gene traditionally not known to be linked to DNA methylation, but we found that it is a player in removing methyl groups — the first time anyone has found molecules that perform this powerful form of gene regulation,” said co-senior author Dr. Olivier Elemento, an associate professor of computational genomics in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics who heads the Laboratory of Cancer Systems Biology in the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell and co-chairs the Meyer Cancer Center Program in Genetics, Epigenetics and Systems Biology. “What is interesting is that many tumor types, and that includes B-cell lymphomas, tend to be linked to global — genome-wide — hypomethylation, compared to normal cells. How hypomethylation occurs is not well understood. AID is so far the only enzyme that has been directly linked to this active process. So AID or related enzymes could be involved in other cancers as well.”
These new findings have the potential to reveal a new cause of blood cancers and lead to the development of new strategies to treat B-cell lymphomas.