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For Important Tumor-Suppressing Protein, Context is Key

Illustration of p53 binding to major categories of repeats in the human genome, such as LTR, SINE and LINE.

Berkeley Lab scientists have learned new details about how an important tumor-suppressing protein, called p53, binds to the human genome. As with many things in life, they found that context makes a big difference.

Scientists Develop New Way to Study How Human Cells Become Immortal, a Crucial Precursor to Cancer

The left image shows the chromosomes of an immortal cell line derived by treatment with a chemical carcinogen. It has an aberrant number and arrangement of chromosomes. This line had to generate the errors that allowed immortalization. The right image shows the chromosomes of an immortal line derived using the new Berkeley Lab method. It has the normal number of 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs. Because of their normal karyotype, these new immortal cell lines may help scientists better understand cell immortalization as it occurs in people. (Image credit: Arthur Brothman and Laura Fuchs, left image; Karen Swisshelm, right image).

Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a new method that can easily create immortal human mammary epithelial cells. The cells could greatly facilitate the examination of cell immortalization as it actually occurs during cancer progression.

New Clues to Why Older Women are More Vulnerable to Breast Cancer

These fluorescent images of human mammary epithelial cells exemplify the effects of aging. In the left image, multipotent progenitor cells from a 19-year-old young woman respond to a tumor-mimicking stiff surface by differentiating into red-colored tumor-suppressing myoepithelial cells. In the right image, progenitor cells from a 66-year-old woman fail to launch this putative cancer-fighting response when exposed to a stiff surface. (Credit: Pelissier/LaBarge)

Berkeley Lab scientists have gained more insights into why older women are more susceptible to breast cancer. They found that as women age, the cells responsible for maintaining healthy breast tissue stop responding to their immediate surroundings, including mechanical cues that should prompt them to suppress nearby tumors.

New Details on Microtubules and How the Anti-Cancer Drug Taxol Works

The most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that play a crucial role in cell division, provides new insight into the success of the anti-cancer drug Taxol.

Berkeley Lab researchers have produced images of microtubule assembly and disassembly at the unprecedented resolution of 5 angstroms, providing new insight into the success of the anti-cancer drug Taxol and pointing the way to possible improvements.

Vast Gene-Expression Map Yields Neurological and Environmental Stress Insights

A consortium led by Berkeley Lab scientists has conducted the largest survey yet of how information encoded in an animal genome is processed in different organs, stages of development, and environmental conditions. Their findings, based on fruit fly research, paint a new picture of how genes function in the nervous system and in response to environmental stress.

Berkeley Lab Startup Wants to Know How Damaged Your DNA Is

Berkeley Lab scientist Sylvain Costes has come up with a way to automate the job of screening for DNA damage, using a proprietary algorithm and a machine to scan specimens and objectively score the damaged DNA. Now he has launched Exogen Biotechnology to commercialize the technology and, he hopes, make tests for DNA damage as common as a cholesterol test.

How a Shape-shifting DNA-repair Machine Fights Cancer

Maybe you’ve seen the movies or played with toy Transformers, those shape-shifting machines that morph in response to whatever challenge they face. It turns out that DNA-repair machines in your cells use a similar approach to fight cancer and other diseases, according to new research led by Berkeley Lab scientists.

A Role of Sugar Uptake in Breast Cancer Revealed

Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that aerobic glycolysis – glucose metabolism in the presence of oxygen – is not the consequence of the cancerous activity of malignant cells, as has been widely believed, but is itself a cancerous event.

Tiny Bubbles Hold Big Promise for NMR/MRI

Tiny bubbles carrying hyperpolarized xenon gas hold big promise for greatly increasing the sensitivity of NMR/MRI technologies.

Cancerous Traffic Jams: Biomechanical Factor in Malignancies Identified

Berkeley Lab researchers have demonstrated that the malignant activity of a cellular protein system strongly linked to breast cancer can arise from what essentially are protein traffic jams.