Certain blood cancers can be triggered by genetic changes in the blood cells' microenvironment, a new mouse model of cancer indicates. The finding may have implications for our understanding and treatment of leukaemia.
Deletion in bone progenitor cells of Dicer1, a gene involved in microRNA processing, disrupts normal blood cell production and can lead to leukaemia, David Scadden and colleagues report in Nature. The progenitor cells, which form part of the 'niche' surrounding blood cells, have lower levels of Sbds, the gene mutated in Schwachman-Bodian-Diamond syndrome -- a human bone marrow failure that predisposes to leukaemia.
The team envisage a 'niche-based' model of oncogenesis in which a change in a specific microenvironmental cell acts as the primary moment in a multi-step process towards malignancy of a supported, but distinct cell type. Signals generated by the microenvironment may therefore represent possible therapeutic targets for treatment and prevention strategies.
David Scadden (MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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