Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Clues for Cancer
26 January 2012

Clues for Cancer

Increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer are associated with faults in a gene called BRCA2. Researchers already know that the healthy version of this gene produces a protein that repairs damaged DNA. Recent work suggests it might also be necessary for proper cell division – the doubling of the genome (all the DNA) in a cell, which is then split between two daughter cells. To investigate, researchers looked at the inner workings of human cells lacking the BRCA2 protein. This picture reveals their findings – DNA is stained blue and α-tubulin (a scaffold-like protein used here to identify different cells) is coloured red. Each fully formed cell has only one nucleus (blue blob) – suggesting the two copies of the genome have been successfully divided into separate cells. So BRCA2 – at least in humans – doesn’t control cell division.

Written by Rebecca Hill

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